EDITORIAL: Iraq War signified a change in the way Americans view foreign policy
No matter how you feel about the Iraq War, its costs or its consequences, one thing is undeniable: The war has affected this country in profound ways.
When history looks back on the past decade or so of American history, it will view the Iraq War in the same light as Sept. 11 and the Great Recession: a game-changing event that altered the way Americans view themselves and their collective role in the world.
The political world we live in has been shaped by Iraq. From the way we approach our everyday life — how many of us still have it in the back of our mind that an attack could happen at anytime? — to noticeable instances like increased security and TSA regulations at airports.
In 2003, Barack Obama was a state senator in Illinois. His vocal opposition to the war since its beginning thrust him into the national spotlight and gave him a critical advantage over Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war, in the 2008 Democratic primaries. Had the war remained popular, or had Obama even been a supporter of the war, he might not be president right now.
The Republican Party, the party of defense spending, is in the middle of an internal war of ideas. Establishment Republicans from the Reagan and Bush years who are big on national defense are going toe-to-toe with anti-spending, isolationist-leaning conservatives who have become increasingly prominent in the Obama era.
We’ve seen this in recent weeks, with the rise of tea party darling Rand Paul, who mirrors his father and former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and his policy of reeling our military presence across the globe. Meanwhile, establishment party members like Rick Santorum and Mitch McConnell continue to fight back, with an attempt to reel in Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a top candidate for 2016.
And the fight amongst Republicans is revealing an even larger shift in the way Americans view foreign policy. With economic conditions slowly recovering and the nation’s debt at an all-time high, Americans are beginning to realize that we need to take a deep breath, step back and think twice before we invade a country.
A war is not something to take lightly, and we found that out the hard way over the past decade. Too many lives were lost in a war that was not totally necessary. It’s important that we keep that lesson in mind moving forward and not forget it.
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