Robert Bennett: Is Iraq better off because of war?

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  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2013 10:37 p.m.

    I think the majority of the readers have spoken.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 4, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    On the question of stability, any country including Iraq is usually stable with a dictator. It's whether the US supports that dictator i suppose is the question. Democracy is always unstable, see Founding Fathers quotes on democracy.

    But with that said, not sure I care if Iraq is better. I want to know whether this made the US stronger and safer. With tons of debt and prestige lessened in the region, I would say NO!

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    March 26, 2013 11:38 a.m.

    "Is Iraq better off because of war?"




  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    March 26, 2013 9:45 a.m.


    "You make my original point. Iraq was the one country in the world that al-Qaeda wanted badly enough to make an open play for it."

    Iraq itself wasn't a strategic location for any other reason than it's where open season on the Americans was. The al-Qaeda narrative is that Americans are modern crusaders who oppress and kill Muslims, and they must be expelled and humiliated for the Islamic world to regain its geopolitical strength. That narrative is satisfied wherever Americans are. Bin Laden's declaration of war railed against American "occupiers" in Saudi Arabia in the '90s. If we had invaded Iran, Syria, or Saudi Arabia instead,then those would have been the countries where al-Qaeda committed itself.

    "Al-Qaeda committed vast resources to Iraq, and lost them. Those resources may otherwise have been directed at us here."

    Al-Qaeda could deploy less-trained grunts with small arms, basic demolitions training, or suicide bombs at low cost in Iraq while committing other resources to terror attacks (London and Madrid come to mind, as do attempts in the US). The way to counter that is intelligence and homeland security, not boots in Iraq.

  • HS Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    It's exactly opinions like Bob's on why American citizens must be kept informed and motivated to speak out. History has proved without a doubt the war was a mistake. That's a fact. Conservatives and Hawks like Bob now try to rewrite history with a narrow view on the events and timing. America was in no immediate peril and war critcs and the majority of the worlds leaders were pleading to slow down and not rush into war. The Bush administration alone has to take responsibilty for creating an immediate nessecaity for war. We controlled the air and the country was isolated, nothing dangerous was getting in or out. Waiting until the inspectors got done with their work would have saved thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. Bush is either evil or incompetent and to claim anything other than the two is denying the reality of what happened and why.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 26, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    There was certainly evidence to support the possibility that Iraq had WMD.

    And there was certainly evidence to the contrary.

    Then Dick Cheney came on TV and said " there is NO DOUBT that Saddam has Weapons of Mass Destruction"

    That was not true. There was plenty of doubt.

    Whether or not Iraq is better off today is not the question. A better question? "Was the cost in life and debt worth the outcome in Iraq? Was it worth borrowing money from China to fight that war?"

    Only the far right believes it was worth it.

    And many will still try to convince us that there were truly WMD's. How is that for amazing?

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 26, 2013 7:44 a.m.

    @Truthseeker "Status of Forces Agreement", etc.

    I'm not saying we had to stay in Iraq forever. I'm saying, now that we've thwarted al-Qaeda there, we should be pressing them elsewhere. Allowing them the space to rebuild is a huge mistake.

    @Truthseeker "David Frum"

    David Frum is one of those people who thought the war was about Saddam.

    @Res Novae "There was absolutely zero chance of al-Qaeda turning our country into an abattoir like Iraq."

    You make my original point. Iraq was the one country in the world that al-Qaeda wanted badly enough to make an open play for it.

    @Res Novae " a war that has had nothing to do with preventing a recurrence of 9/11 here."

    I respectfully disagree. Al-Qaeda committed vast resources to Iraq, and lost them. Those resources may otherwise have been directed at us here. We'll let history speak for itself on the non-recurrence of 9/11.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 26, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    A solid majority of Americans have said it was a mistake to go into Iraq. Why, because it was based on faulty information, hurt our country's credibility, was extremely costly to us, and opened the door for more terrorism and not less. The one hope is the country will become more stable politically, not having a dictator, but still fewer people are coming back to live compared to those who are leaving. It is very premature for Mr. Bennett to put a positive spin on this picture.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    March 25, 2013 11:10 p.m.


  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    March 25, 2013 6:25 p.m.

    I shutter the thought of 911, world trad center. I have my doubts. But hay I'm a conspiracy theory kind of guy.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 25, 2013 1:03 p.m.

    "You might imagine that an administration preparing for a war of choice would be gripped by self-questioning and hot debate...

    ..That discussion never really happened.. For a time, Iraq was discussed inside the Bush administration as something that would be decided at some point in the future; then, somewhere along the way, war with Iraq was discussed as something that had already been decided long ago.

    The war was planned as a lightning thrust: overthrow Saddam, destroy weapons, get out fast, leaving reconstruction to the Iraqis to run and the Europeans to pay for.

    All of us who advocated for the war have had to do some reckoning. If the war achieved some positive gains, its unnecessary costs—in life, in money, to the prestige and credibility of the U.S. government—are daunting and dismaying. If we’d found WMD, kept better order after the overthrow of Saddam, if more Iraqis had welcomed the invasion, it would've been different. If the case for the war had been argued in a less contrived and predetermined way, it would've been different.
    But it wasn’t different. Those involved bear the responsibility."
    (David Frum, Bush speechwriter)

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    March 25, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    Like other Utah politicians, Bob Bennett was wrong to support the Iraq War in 2003, and 10 years later he can't admit how wrong he was. Of course, Utah politicians have been down this path before. It was called Vietnam.

    By the way, our instigation of the Iraq and Vietnam wars was so contrary to clear-cut principles taught in the Book of Mormon that I wonder how anyone who professes to believe in the book could have supported either war.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    March 25, 2013 11:07 a.m.

    "But we all know what your reaction would have been if the battle had been fought here."

    Yup, I'd have fought 'em here like I fought 'em there.

    But it was never an issue of fighting them over there so we didn't fight them here. There was absolutely zero chance of al-Qaeda turning our country into an abattoir like Iraq. We invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and made its people victims in a war that has had nothing to do with preventing a recurrence of 9/11 here. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was eviscerated, but primarily because it never gained traction among Iraqis who saw them as foreign fanatics there to stir up trouble with the occupation forces while killing Iraqis left and right. The war did nothing to stop al-Qaeda "franchises" elsewhere.

    A majority of Iraqis wish they were still under the rule of a psychotic thug. THAT says more to me about the morality of the Iraq war than anything Senator Bennett can say to justify the benefits of the war. Perhaps their attitudes will change with time, but there's little reason for optimism.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 25, 2013 10:52 a.m.

    There appears to be no "gut-check" or "reality check" from Republicans on this issue. Lessons learned anybody? Nope.

    Mr. Bennett. Like most Republicans, you conveniently overlook 2002-2003 pre-invasion UN Weapons Inspectors work/statements and more recent statements by Mr. Kay: "candor is one of the values not valued in Washington....I'm profoundly sad about what has happened to their (Iraq) society...we didn't do a good job"

    "In one of his final acts, Bush in 2008 signed a Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government. The SOFA provided a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the United Nations Security Council mandate for the occupation mission expired at the end of 2008. But it required that all U.S. forces be gone from Iraq by 1/1/2012...

    Even the Obama Administration’s plan to keep some 3,000 trainers behind failed because the Iraqis were unwilling to grant them the legal immunity from local prosecution that is common to SOF agreements in most countries where U.S. forces are based."
    (Time Oct 2011 "Iraq's Govt., Not Obama, Called Time on the U.S. Troop Presence")

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 25, 2013 10:35 a.m.


    Split hairs all you want. Play whatever semantic games you want. The fact remains that al-Zarqawi was in Iraq building his terror network before the invasion.

    It's laughable when the left claims that AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) wasn't Al-Qaeda, and they weren't in Iraq.

    @Res Novae "We had no right to turn the streets and fields of Iraq into a battlefield full of Iraqi victims."

    But we all know what your reaction would have been if the battle had been fought here.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 25, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    "Is Iraq better off?" Maybe, but the MEANS to the end were atrocious. We attacked a small country that didn't attack us, took control of their economy to our benefit, killed hundreds of thousands of people, and spent $3 trillion we don't have! The Iraq War was simply not justified except by lies, and should go down in history as the atrocity that demonstrated America has abandoned its own vaunted ideals. Sen. Bennett, "by any means necessary" is the motto of people with a deformed conscience.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    March 25, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    Yes, Overthrowing Saddam Hussein and installing a weak central government really helped with Iran......Or it removed the biggest counterbalance to their power in the Middle East, while Saddam was a bad guy he was no friend of Iran, unlike the current Iraqi regime. Another US blunder in the Middle east, we "remove" one problem but cause another one further down the road. Just like the CIA funding Osama Bin Laudin in the 80's to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. This situation is going to turn out similar. A decision made with no though to the consequences down the road.....

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 25, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    @Happy Valley Heretic "al-Qaeda was not in Iraq...."

    They certainly were. They went there to fight the U.S., and suffered defeat -- not annihilation, but defeat. Iraq was a huge strategic setback for al-Qaeda.

    @Truthseeker "Al-Qaeda is rebuilding in Iraq...."

    This is a shame that falls upon the current administration, not the former.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 25, 2013 9:48 a.m.

    Mountanman said: @ Happy Valley. How short your memory is! How tainted your view of recent history is! President Bush said all along that we were fighting an ideology in many countries not a single country.

    That is your opinion, and it is not correct. My memory is very much intact.
    "we were fighting an ideology" Were?
    With en edict like that America is free to start a campaign/war on any country or group without any real evidence, right?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 25, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    (previous discussion)
    You took issue with Hans Blix's statement: "…..but the terrorist group (Al Qaeda) didn't exist in the country until after the invasion."

    I never stated Zarqawi was not in Iraq prior to the invasion. I did say that Zarqawi was mostly a independent terrorist and only declared his alliance with al Qaeda in 2004. A main target prior to the U.S. invading Iraq was toppling Jordanian leadership.

    "Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Zarqawi returned to Iran, where he met with bin Laden's military chief, Saif al-Adel (Muhammad Ibrahim Makawi), who asked him to coordinate the entry of al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq through Syria."
    (NewWorldEncyclopedia: "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi")

    “But just last week, in little-noticed remarks, Rumsfeld conceded that Zarqawi's ties to Al Qaeda may have been much more ambiguous--and that he may have been more a rival than a lieutenant to bin Laden, "may very well not have sworn allegiance to [bin Laden]," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing.... Rumsfeld added that, "someone could legitimately say he's not Al Qaeda."
    (Michael Isikoff “Terror Watch: the Worlds Most Dangerous” 2004)

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    March 25, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    The only ones who can truly opine whether the war was worthwhile are the Iraqi people. How credible is the opinion of one who hasn't endured a decade of bombings, hostages pulled randomly off the streets and executed, collapse of infrastructure, and being caught in the middle of battles between insurgents the US military? As Truthseeker points out, a majority of Iraqis disagree with Senator Bennett a decade later.

    The overwhelming majority of insurgents fighting us in Iraq were Iraqis, along with bands of Jihadis from neighboring countries who were radicalized by the invasion. They would not have been there trying to kill Americans but for the fact that we invaded first. Even al-Qaeda in Iraq only began organizing its presence there on the eve of the clearly inevitable invasion. The argument that we invaded Iraq with an eye towards pulling al-Qaeda out of its caves in Afghanistan so we could destroy it is as morally defensible as the US invading Brazil to draw Nazis in so we could fight them there 70 years ago. We had no right to turn the streets and fields of Iraq into a battlefield full of Iraqi victims.

  • Whatever Springville, UT
    March 25, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    Bob, you voted to give the Bush administration, an administration full of chicken hawks and draft dodgers, the right to start a war that they didn't have the brains to finish. No amount of Faux News Hannity/Beck (and all who mindlessly parrot them on this board) attempts to rewrite history will ever be looked upon as anything but a complete lie and a fantasy in order to pander to the tea party lemmings who voted you out of office...

    5000 soldiers dead, countless wounded, many more families destroyed, and over 3 trillion spent (so far) for nothing because you and people like you lacked the courage to stand up to the Bush administrations political fear mongering and relentless pursuit of a needless and useless war.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 25, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    @ Happy Valley. How short your memory is! How tainted your view of recent history is! President Bush said all along that we were fighting an ideology in many countries not a single country. Have you forgotten 9-11? That's why bin Laden was in Pakistan. That's why we are still at war with the ideology and Benghazi is a recent example, even though Obama won't admit it and covers up details of the attack. Halliburton was hired to put out the oil well fires in Kuwait that Saddam Hussein set as we stopped his invasion of that country and Halliburton did it in record time and saved more oil and pollution than any environment advocacy group that ever existed! Where do you think Al Qaida will attack us next? Where did Syria get WMDs? Are you still doubting, still denying, still allowing your partisan politics define your views of reality?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 25, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    From USA TODAY, Oct, 2012
    "BAGHDAD (AP) — Al-Qaeda is rebuilding in Iraq and has set up training camps for insurgents in the nation's western deserts as the extremist group seizes on regional instability and government security failures to regain strength, officials say.

    The two senior Iraqi security officials said al-Qaeda fighters have been easily moving between Iraq and Syria in recent months to help Sunni rebels overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose Alawite religious sect is an offshoot of Shiite Islam."

    A poll conducted by Zogby found:

    "Majorities of Iraqi respondents say that the impact of the war has been negative with respect to their personal safety and security (72%), economic development and employment (66%), administration of government services (59%), and relations with neighboring countries (54%). One-half feel there has been a negative impact on political freedom (as opposed to one-third who say that political freedom has advanced). Similarly almost one-half of Iraqis feel the impact on education has been negative. The results are more mixed in terms of women’s rights (26% positive, 37% negative, 26% no impact)."
    (Daniel Larison 1/2/2012, "How Do Iraqis Feel...")

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 25, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    al-Qaeda was not in Iraq neither were WMD, neither was Osama.

    What was there...a neutered regime because of the first Gulf war.

    Bush was playing with his chain saw in Texas why Haliburton (President Cheney) and others
    profited from our children and Iraq children's deaths.

    The only chess game being played was on the American People by the Military Industrial Complex.

    Nate said: The Real Enemy was precisely the one who met defeat in Iraq?
    Who was defeated in Iraq since the bombing may have stopped on our end but seems to me the war isn't over because were leaving, or is that a New definition of victory?

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 25, 2013 7:32 a.m.

    And just who are you sir, sitting in your office to decide that the carnage and death, plus the continued violence and instability was "worth" the revitilization of their economy. Talk about hubris. Plus the details of your justification are simiply the rationalizations of an old man who was complicit in one of the worst chapters in American history.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 25, 2013 6:19 a.m.

    Deposing Saddam came as a bonus, but the real enemy was always al-Qaeda. Observe how al-Qaeda viewed Iraq.

    "On al-Qaida: Osama bin Laden called the war in Iraq 'the most important and serious issue today for the whole world,' and his successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, said that victory there was essential if al-Qaida's dream of a caliphate was to be realized."

    Now look at the result.

    " has been discredited throughout the world by virtue of its military defeat there."

    By taking out Saddam, America created a power vacuum in Iraq, which was too big a prize for al-Qaeda to resist. Al-Qaeda was drawn out of its cave onto the battlefield, where we broke its back. Or was it only a coincidence that The Real Enemy was precisely the one who met defeat in Iraq?

    George W. Bush was playing chess, while everyone else was playing checkers.