The Invasion of US Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

Introduction

The fight against global terrorism and eliminating the threats of extremists’ activities in the Middle East became the key prerequisites for the invasion of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The powers of President, George W. Bush, were largely expanded due to corresponding changes in the legislature, in particular, through the USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America, 2001). These interventions were received ambiguously and had both supporters and opponents of a tough foreign policy. At the same time, military campaigns affected President’s rating negatively and led to a decrease in his popularity among the population. Alternative and less aggressive solutions could have enhanced the international reputation of the United States and prevented mass casualties on both opposing sides. Despite the approval of interventions by the American government, the assessment of these events on a global scale is controversial.

President’s Justification for Military Interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan

American military interventions in the Middle East were high-profile events in the early 20th century. According to Burbach (2017), after the terrorist attacks in September 2001, the US government embarked on a course to eradicate extremism and its manifestations. President Bush spearheaded the signing of the USA Patriot Act that involved organizing counterterrorism capacity measures (Uniting and Strengthening America, 2001). In his official speech in 2003, President paid tribute to Tom Ridge who was the country’s first Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and supported the interventions (“President updates America,” 2003). The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, supported this initiative and repeatedly made official statements on behalf of the CIA, providing data on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East (Mintz & Wayne, 2016). This evidence served as an additional incentive to draw the attention of government officials to the program of advancing military interventions.

At the same time, some government officials spoke out against military interventions and criticized the methods proposed by President. According to Mintz and Wayne (2016), Brent Scowcroft, Bush’s national security adviser, denied the forthcoming campaign was effective and argued that the war in Iraq would not help stop global terrorism. General Joseph Hoar also spoke out against the intervention and noted that risks were too high, and a peaceful solution would be a more effective measure (Mintz & Wayne, 2016). However, the opinions of the oppositionists were not taken into account.

The US military intervention had a great impact on the country itself. The resolution passed in 2002 expanded Bush’s powers substantially and gave President an opportunity to allocate resources according to his personal vision supported by the country’s key departments (Authorization for Use of Military Force, 2002). However, the US military campaign was controversial in terms of public support. Burbach (2017) notes a low level of public confidence in American military capabilities compared to the 20th century. Moreover, as Liberman and Skitka (2017) argue, in 2003, only 51% of the population supported military action in Iraq (p. 637). This, in turn, led to a decline in Bush’s approval rating, and despite being re-elected to a second term in 2004, by 2009, the level of approval of his policies was extremely low. The coming to power of Barack Obama from the Democratic Party marked changes in the state.

In the international arena, the positions of individual countries were distinctive regarding support for the US intervention. According to Mintz and Wayne (2016), NATO countries agreed with the US military program, in particular, the UK, Poland, and some other states. Those countries with economic interests in the Middle East, including Russia and China, did not approve of the US military actions and opposed aggression (Mintz & Wayne, 2016). In Iraq, the US army succeeded in bringing about a change of power, and the regime of Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Large numbers of terrorist groups were destroyed, and the military capabilities of both Iraq and Afghanistan were weakened. As a result, these countries were split, but, as Liberman and Skitka (2017) note, individual groups of extremists controlled different regions. The centralized power was overthrown, but the ultimate goals of establishing a democratic government were not achieved (Liberman & Skitka, 2017). Terrorist groups continued to occupy positions in the Middle East, which confirmed the controversy of the intervention program.

Military Interventions Analysis

The decision to send troops to Iraq and Afghanistan was pushed by George W. Bush on the basis of statements about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and the dangerous activities of Taliban terrorist groups. At the same time, as Mintz and Wayne (2016) argue, according to American intelligence service, in the period between the 9/11 attack and the military intervention in Iraq, extremists planned terrorist acts in the United States. Bush was able to prevent aggression in the Middle East and had sufficient resources to counter the threat. However, after disagreements at the diplomatic level, a peaceful settlement was impossible, and the transfer of American military units to the Gulf region became the only way to counter the threat of extremist activities.

Officially, the large-scale military campaign in Iraq ended in late 2011. However, according to Mintz and Wayne (2016), by this time, the number of opponents of American aggression in the Middle East had increased significantly. As a result, one of the aspects of Obama’s election campaign in 2009 was the promise to withdraw troops from Iraq (Burbach, 2017). Due to the presence of individual terrorist groups and the threat of local extremist religious teams, the campaign in Iraq could not have ended earlier. Insurgents continued to fight the Iraqi government, and an earlier US retreat could have resulted in even more casualties and destruction.

When analyzing the outcomes of the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, one can note that the invasions were a solution that could have been avoided. Nevertheless, after the outbreak of the war, an earlier withdrawal of troops would not have been logical. In his speech in 2003, Bush pledged to help the Iraqi people move towards democracy and free themselves from the oppression of tyranny (“President updates America,” 2003). Ultimately, however, the war brought more destruction and casualties than planned, and the US international reputation was undermined by an overly aggressive foreign policy. In addition, many people have felt the effects of the war since many American soldiers served in Iraq and Afghanistan. My family did not suffer, but among my acquaintances, there are people who lost brothers, husbands, and fathers. The bloody action in the Middle East has taught the American government a lesson that even a bad peace is better than a good war.

Conclusion

From both local and global perspectives, military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan are controversial aspects of American history, and the responsibility of George W. Bush’s administration for these campaigns is significant. The powers of the president were significantly expanded, which allowed him to allocate resources and make specific decisions on the conduct of an aggressive foreign policy. Views on military events were distinctive, and there were both supporters and opponents of the interventions. Bush’s approval rating declined gradually, and by 2009, the approval of his policy was weak. This, in turn, allowed Barack Obama, the representative of the Democratic Party, to become President of the United States and end large-scale military campaigns in the Middle East.

References

, Publ. L. No. 107-243, 116 Stat. 1498. Web.

Burbach, D. T. (2017). . Orbis, 61(2), 154-171. Web.

Liberman, P., & Skitka, L. J. (2017). . Public Opinion Quarterly, 81(3), 636-660. Web.

Mintz, A., & Wayne, C. (2016). The polythink syndrome: US foreign policy decisions on 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and ISIS. Stanford University Press.

. (2003). The White House. Web.

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot Act) Act of 2001, Publ. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272. Web.

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