THE BLOG

I Served in Iraq, We Shouldn't Go Back

06/17/2014 09:26 am ET | Updated Aug 17, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The news reports coming out of Iraq are bringing back a lot of memories of the violence and chaos I experienced in that country nine years ago as a U.S. Marine.

I can't imagine what it is like for Iraqi civilians facing a new round of violence, fear and instability. What is happening in Iraq is a tragedy, but I don't believe the United States currently has a constructive role to play in solving it.

Our decade-long war in Iraq was poorly planned and executed on a faulty premise. We spent billions trying to install a democratic government without a strong enough understanding of regional politics -- creating instability and elevating Iran in the process.

We sent troops into combat without the proper armor or the resources to take care of them when they got home. I lost friends I shouldn't have to IED attacks -- many of whom, I believe, would be alive today if our vehicles had armor. I have also seen friends suffer needlessly at home because they can't get care from the veterans' health system.

Since ISIS seized Mosul, I've been getting asked a lot whether I feel as though our fight in Iraq "wasn't worth it" or whether I think my time there was "wasted."

I don't.

I am a Marine and I would have gone anywhere my country sent me. When you sign up, you know you might get sent to bad places under bad circumstances. I volunteered to serve and I did so happily.

I fought for my friends. I fought because I am a Marine. That's what Marines do.

So many young men and women served and sacrificed in Iraq, but that's not a reason to double down on a failed strategy. I'm glad we're out of Iraq, we should stay out.

Even when we have clear objectives, foreign policy through military intervention is never simple. The best-laid plans from Washington get executed by young men and women operating in countries and situations that are complicated, nuanced and fluid.

Our military is enormously effective when it is used for what it is designed to do. But throwing our fighting forces into fast-changing situation without a clear objective could be disastrous.

We didn't have a clear objective when I was in Iraq in 2005. Any military intervention now would be even less defined than our last.

This past week I've seen the architects of the Iraq War popping up in the press to criticize President Obama's decision to bring our troops home or -- even more shockingly -- to argue that we again need to intervene.

I hope we find a way to contribute diplomatically to ending this conflict in Iraq, but putting Americans on the ground won't help.

My generation of Marines willingly fought in Iraq, despite poor planning and a faulty strategy. The next generation of Marines shouldn't have to do the same.