This year marks 20 years since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein, based on the mistaken belief that the Iraqi government had developed weapons of mass destruction.
The war and U.S. occupation has unleashed sectarian violence, strengthened Iran, and cost the lives of over 4,600 American servicemembers and nearly 2 trillion taxpayer dollars. Roughly 2,500 servicemembers are still deployed there, frequently becoming an easy target for bad actors.
Our troops have served valiantly, and with our main objectives long ago met, it dishonors their service and the will of the American people to continue this nation-building exercise that does not make us safer or more prosperous. The reality is the United States has few vital interests in the Middle East, and staying in Iraq is not crucial to defending them. It only puts our troops at unnecessary risk.
Withdrawing from Iraq doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t maintain an ability to counter credible threats to the U.S. that may arise, but we can do that without a permanent troop presence in Iraq. And as more pressing challenges emerge in Eastern Europe and especially East Asia, it’s critical to have the military resources available where they’re most needed.
After 20 years of American troops on the ground in Iraq, our leaders should seriously question the nature and utility of our presence in the country. By asking those questions and demanding the answers, Washington will realize we should bring our troops home from Iraq, putting an end to 20 years of a misguided war.