Consequences of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

When the American Invasion of Iraq from 2003 is brought up in any conversation, you can almost hear a collective groan from everyone in the room. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is considered by many to be a stain on the record of American foreign policy and action. While the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was removed from power, a plethora of other problems followed in the wake of the de-Baathification of the country.

In my personal opinion, one of the greatest implications/consequences of the invasion was the increase in Iranian influence, something that continues to grow to this day. With the removal of the primarily Sunni government, many Shia groups began to fight back against their former oppressors, leading to a large sectarian clash. These Shia group were often backed by Iran, receiving weapons and training from Iranian forces, some of which were commanded by the late Qasem Soleimani. These forces were responsible for the deaths of countless Americans during the occupation and counter insurgency operations of Iraq.

Today, the power vacuum left by the American removal of Saddam continues to plague Iraq. Iranian forces increased their presence during the mid 2010s to help combat ISIS, spreading Iranian military and cultural influence along the way. In addition, members of Iranian backed militias continue to gain power within the Iraqi government, bringing Baghdad and Tehran closer in alignment politically. These groups include the Popular Mobilization Front and al-Nujaba, organizations with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The future of Iraq looks dim with Iranian influence growing every day, and it was largely set in motion by the US invasion in 2003.

(27) Iran’s Power Over Iraq – YouTube


The Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is obviously a very heated issue, even in American politics. Many politicians and agreements have tried to make peace in the past, from Arafat and Rabin to Oslo 1 and 2. However, there still has been no resolution to the conflict. This begs the questions of if it will be resolved in a peaceful and lasting way in the near future.

My opinion is no, it will not.

While I truly wish this was not the case, and hope to be very wrong, I do not believe peace will be achieved given the current circumstances. As talked about in class, the closer a process gets to achieving peace, the more fiercely radicals on either side will resist it. In addition, more people (or at least those with enough influence) are getting comfortable with the current status quo. Unless the situation for enough people gets worse, and said people have a say in the process, few will be willing to challenge a system that “could be worse” for them. Finally, the salience of the issue (how front and center it is) must become much more prevalent, not only within Israeli discourse, but globally. There needs to be both international support and pressure on both parties to come to an agreement, or neither side will concede.

I truly hope I am incorrect in my prediction, but with what I know, this seems most likely.


Perception of Cultures

The other day I work, I began to talk with my managers about schoolwork. When I mentioned the Middle East, some very negative opinions on the region came up. My one manager, a former Marine, had deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once. He had an extremely negative view on the region, referring to it as a “sh*thole” of a place. I was understanding of his feelings, as he had lost a few friends while serving there.

My other manager agreed with him, although he had never served. Curious as to why he thought this, I asked him if he had ever been to the region. He explained to me that while he had never been to the region, his grandparents had once lived in Syria. After talking with him further, it appears that they likely lived in modern day Lebanon, part of Greater Syria before the creation of the modern states that exist today. According to what he told me, his grandparents were forced to leave the area in the early 1900’s, as they were forced out by Muslims due to the fact that they were practicing Christians.

While his feelings were understandable, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that events over a century ago still mare people’s perception of different cultures and regions within the world. The conversation gave me an appreciation for courses such as this. I would be lying if I didn’t have a similar view to both of these men a few years ago due to many similar conversations with family friends, several of whom deployed with the military to the MENA region, as well as the common perception of Orientalism.  However, classes such as this have showed me the region in a different light, so much so that I plan to study abroad within Jordan in order to gain a first hand experience into the culture and history of MENA.