Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11
The war on Islamic terror didn't start on 9/11 and wasn't about Osama Bin Laden, it was about the radical Islamic attitude that Western Modernization (and thus civilization) must be destroyed. It started decades before 9/11 with dozens of attacks on America (and Western world), it crossed borders, so Osama and 9/ 11 was only the latest symptom of the problem. We didn’t declare war on Al Queda or the Taliban, we declared war on terrorism and the nations that sponsored islamic hatred of the west (us especially); going after the most severe examples first. And there couldn't be peace, as long as Nation-States were harboring and fostering that terrorism, and Iraq made itself a great example to set (fix). You don't have to agree that justified war, but the rational can't deny the point or that Iraq did have something to do with middle eastern Islamic terrorism.
For those with short memories, remember the precursors to us going into Afghanistan and Iraq, wasn’t just 9/11 it was all of the following:
- 1979 66 Hostages taken and terrorized for 444 days
- 1983 Beirut embassy destroyed in suicide car-bomb attack; 63 dead,
- 1983 Suicide truck bomb levels marine barracks in Beruit, killing 241 Marines.
- 1983 Kuwait Shiite truck bombers attack our embassy and others, killing 5 and injuring 80. 1984 Beirut, Lebanon: truck bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy killing 24.
- 1984 Kuwait Airways Flight 221, from Kuwait to Pakistan, hijacked and diverted to Tehran. Two Americans killed.
- 1985 Madrid, Spain: Bombing at restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers.
- 1985 Achille Lauro.
- 1986 West Berlin, Germany: Libyans bombed a disco frequented by U.S. servicemen, killing 2 and injuring hundreds.
- 1988 Lockerbie, Scotland: N.Y.-bound Pan-Am Boeing 747 exploded in flight killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground.
- 1993 WTC basement bomb kills 6, injures over 1,000, trying to bring the buildings down. 1995 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: car bomb exploded at U.S. military headquarters, killing 5 U.S. military servicemen.
- 1996 Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: truck bomb exploded outside Khobar Towers military complex, killing 19 Americans and injuring hundreds of others.
- 1996 Osama was offered to Clinton by Sudan. Clinton declined taking him into custody.
- 1998 Kenya and Tanzania: truck bombs exploded at 2 U.S. embassies, killing 224 and injur- ing about 4,500.
- 2000 Yemen: U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole heavily damaged by suicide boat bomb: 17 killed 2001 Sept 11. 2,9921 dead.
- 2002 Karachi, Pakistan: bomb explodes outside American Consulate killing 12.
- 2003 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: suicide bombers killed 34 at housing compounds for Westerners 2004 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: terrorists attack the offices of a Saudi oil company in Khobar 22 dead including one American.
Muslim extremists declared war on the U.S. and had been killing Americans and vilifying us for over 40 years before Iraq, that wasn't going to change no matter whether we went in or not.
It takes one to fight
Some naively say it takes two to fight, but they aren’t facing the reality that it only takes one to fight. If someone wants to fight, and you won’t fight back, the other guy will just beat you and may kill you -- there was still a fight, it was just more one-sided. Decades of denial wasn’t working -- the choice was to let the assault continue, or fight back. That was all. You may choose to tolerate more of the wanton murder and terrorism without war, and that's fine -- just don't deny what the choices were.
Us vs. Them
The problem is muslim fanatics are progressives that hate us because they are often tribalistic fanatics that sees the world as "us vs. them". They see us as the root of their social injustice and as the symbol of everything wrong in the world, because of their skewed views of events. Thus we are the target for their rage against the machine. A few fanatics are going to try to take out their anger somewhere and destroy us because of their rage. You can’t negotiate with unreasonable lunatics who want to kill you; your choice is kill them, or be killed by them. Sending them flowers will just give them a return address to send mail-bombs. This doesn't mean that all Muslims are bad, far from it. But it means that you have to kill or capture the bad Muslims before they kill you. The good Muslims can choose to accept that reality, or fight for the wrong side (making them bad Muslims), but there's no good Muslim that says, "my side is justified in killing your side, for not being Muslim".
Sponsoring terrorism is terrorism
Saddam was sponsoring terrorism and had multiple meetings with Al Queda, and was harboring and protecting some of them, and had terrorist training camps, and sponsored our enemies, and had shot missiles at us, and had a stated goal of bringing chaos, anarchy and war to our shores. But the issues were broader. The issue is not whether there were strong ties between Al Queda and Saddam. Iraq was a demonstration that we weren’t going to respect borders or regimes that harbored and sponsored terrorism. There could never be middle-east peace with Saddam supporting terror, and the rest of the terrorists thinking that we would never act, and terrorist sponsoring nations thinking there were no consequences for their actions other than occasional mild rebukes from the U.N., or that they could do things and run back to the protection and safety of being in a terrorist sponsoring country that the U.S. would never attack. So an example had to be made, if you wanted to other countries to stop sponsoring terrorism.
Weakness emboldens your enemies. Regime change in Iraq, changed the whole perception of us and the landscape of the middle-east. It gave the terrorist an enemy to attack more local to them (our military) instead of going after our civilians in America, and it stands a slim chance of spreading freedom, hope and democracy around the region. It got Libya to play nice, and now when we try to negotiate with other countries they have a little more respect (and fear); diplomacy works best when there are consequences if it fails. Thus now we negotiate from a position of strength instead of weakness. People understand that when we don’t invade Iran or Syria, it isn’t because we can’t, or are afraid to, it is because we want to give them time to see the error of their ways.
Change you can believe in
The war against terror was not a war we picked or asked for. Our only chance for change was to demonstrate that attacking us has costs. That doesn't mean you have to agree with the methods, or the outcome (believing that it'll work). But you can either accept the reality that this is why we attacked, not because of 9/11, or because of Oil, or because of George W. Bush wanting to finally end the war that his Dad was forced to start, and so on -- though all those were small factors. The reason they attacked was because they felt we could either tolerate an intolerable status quo, or try to change it.
We needed to remind the world that:
- if you are America (and Western Liberalisms) enemy, you will know it
- If you harbor our enemies, or sponsor them, then there will be costs as well
- there's a difference between when they were saying we were out to get them, and letting them see what it means when the U.S. really is
Whether we’ll achieve all our goals or not, or how poorly things were implemented in the war, is all open for debate; and I suspect will be for a long time. But the reasons for why we went into Iraq are clear for anyone who bothers to look. The status quo was too expensive not to try something else. After 50 years of diplomacy and giving money/aid to the middle east, and getting bombed and called names for it, we decided to try to fix some of the problems; and many of those will require real pressure and regime change.