The Latymer School History Magazine - page 14

Bush’s portrait of Putin
available intelligence, and
that to make the best out of
sparse and inconclusive
intelligence the wording was
developed with care."
One element of the Iraq war
that is often ignored is how it
affected the war in
Afghanistan, which ended
only very recently on the
26th of October 2014,
despite beginning over 13
years previously, and two
years before the war in Iraq.
A very convincing argument
against the war in Iraq is that
it caused the US to divert too
many of its forces away from
the war in Afghanistan,
allowing the Taliban to grow
in this area and leaving the
US army undermanned in
Afghanistan until 2009, when
it began to wind
down operations
in Iraq. Evidence
for this includes
the fact that the
war in Iraq cost
over $1.7 trillion
for the USA alone
and involved the
deployment of up
to 165,000
American troops
at one time. The
argument
continues that if
the United States
had not invaded
Iraq they would
have instead been
able to win the
war in
Afghanistan far
more easily, and
may have been
able to prevent
the increase in
insurgency that
occurred there
post 2003, and
therefore may
have been able to
crack down on the
Taliban. However
others have
argued that the
war in
Afghanistan was
no more just than
the war in Iraq, as
20,000 civilians were killed in
the first six months, and in
the end Osama Bin Laden
was not even found in
Afghanistan. However this is
not a widely held opinion
and it would be more logical
to view the two wars not
together as ‘the war on
terror’, but instead to view
them separately, with the war
in Afghanistan seen as a
qualified success, and the
occupation of Iraq at best a
qualified failure.
One of the largest faults of
the coalition’s strategy in Iraq
was how poorly it dealt with
the general Iraqi population,
as the coalition forces were
able to go from being
viewed as the forces of
good, come to free Iraq from
its dictatorial leader, to being
seen as colonial forces,
occupying Iraq to protect its
oil wealth. One of the key
reasons behind this change
in the way the coalition was
perceived was the press
revelations relating to the
atrocities committed in the
Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In
this prison complex
members of the CIA and US
Army were found to have
violated the basic human
rights of inmates, by
committing various atrocious
acts including rape, torture,
murder, sodomy as well as
other forms of physical and
sexual abuse according to
reports from the US General
Antonio Taguba, who
claimed in 2009 that there
was photographic evidence
of many of these atrocities.
The Bush administration
attempted to explain these
acts as isolated incidents that
were not indicative of wider
US policy. However, this view
was first disputed by many
humanitarian groups at the
time, such as Amnesty
International and Human
Rights Watch, and was later
further disproven by the
release of the ‘torture
memos’. These memos were
originally written in August
2002 and gave the green
light to the use of ‘advanced
interrogation techniques’ by
the CIA, on members of Al-
Qaeda and the Taliban who
were deemed to be outside
the coverage of the Geneva
Convention; the techniques
used included water-
boarding and walling
(pushing a suspect into a
wall). Testimony from
witnesses and those accused
of partaking in the atrocities
at Abu Ghraib also adds
weight to the argument that
it was not just a group of
soldiers acting out against
those whom they had power
over, as many claim that the
acts were carried out with
Did you know?
In 2007 the
number of US
contractors in
Iraq exceeded
that of soldiers.
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