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Explaining the Iraq War to a Child

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Imagine for a moment that you had to explain the Iraq War to a child.

Child: Dad, I have to write a school report on President Bush and the Iraq War. Can you tell me why we went to war with Iraq?

Dad: Well, we went to war with Iraq because our country was brutally attacked on Sept. 11, 2001 and almost 3,000 people were killed.

Child: Got it. So Iraq was the country that attacked us.

Dad: No, Iraq didn't attack us. We were attacked by an Islamic terrorist group.

Child: And they came from Iraq?

Dad: No. Most of them came from Saudi Arabia.

Child: Oh. Did we go to war with Saudi Arabia?

Dad: Of course not. They sell us lots of oil so they're one of our closest friends in that part of the world.

Child: Well, did Iraq have anything to do with the terrorists that attacked us?

Dad: No. In fact, after we went to war, president Bush said there was no evidence Iraq had any involvement in the 9/11 attack.

Child: So did anyone know this terrorist group might attack us?

Dad: Well, a month before Sept. 11, President Bush received a briefing that the system was “blinking red” with warnings about impending terrorist attacks from al Qaeda aimed at New York City, Washington DC and the World Trade Center in particular.

Child: So what did Bush do to protect the country from the terrorists?

Dad: Well, first he took a month-long vacation playing golf, fly fishing, and clearing brush on his estate in Texas.

Child: You mean after the president was warned about this attack, all he did was take a long vacation 1000 miles from where he was told the attack was probably going to happen? What’d he do when the attack actually occurred?

Dad: He was reading with a group of school children in a Florida classroom when one of his aids told him the country was under attack.

Child: OK. So then I suppose he sprang into action to defend the country, right?

Dad: No. After he was told the country was under attack, he sat there reading a children’s book for several more minutes while the attacks were still under way.

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Child: So the president ignored the warnings about the attack, and when they occurred, he sat there reading a children’s book. Then he later decided to go to war with a country that didn’t attack us?

Dad: Well yeah, but to be fair, we did send troops to overthrow the Taliban who were harboring the terrorists in Afghanistan.

Child: You mean we wiped out the terrorists in Afghanistan and we chased them into Iraq?

Dad: No. The terrorists continued to hide in Afghanistan. Bush sent a lot more troops to Iraq than Afghanistan so al Qaeda and the Taliban regained control over much of Afghanistan.

Child: What did he do when the terrorists regained control of Afghanistan?

Dad: He sent 40 thousand more troops.

Child: To Afghanistan?

Dad: No Iraq.

Child: Wait, we sent most of our soldiers to go to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and very few to go after the terrorists that actually attacked us?

Dad: That’s about right.

Child: Are there any other reasons we went to war in Iraq?

Dad: President Bush said we went to war to remove the dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and destroy the weapons of mass destruction that he could some day use against us

Child: Oh, now I get it. After we overthrew Saddam we destroyed his weapons of mass destruction?

Dad: Well, that’s the funny part. You see it turns out they didn't actually have any weapons of mass destruction and they didn’t really pose any threat to us.

Child: So how many people died in the Iraq war?

Dad: Sadly, over 4400 Americans died and over 30,000 were maimed or wounded. Oh, and somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Iraqis died too.

Child: Wow. So after Saddam was removed and Iraq had a new government and a new army, did we leave?

Dad: Well no, not for several more years. After we removed Saddam, several Iraqi militia groups formed and there was an Iraqi Civil War that’s still going on.

Child: So are we at least defeating the terrorists?

Dad: Well, the State Department says the number of terrorist attacks worldwide actually increased in the years after the Iraq war began.

Child: So what good came from the Iraq war?

Dad: Well Bush said we went to war to remove a brutal dictator and to make Iraq a stable democracy as an example to the rest of the Islamic world.

Child: So is Iraq a democracy now?

Dad: Not quite. The new Iraqi government is leaning toward becoming an Islamic theocracy like Iran. Women have few rights in the new Iraq. There have been many violent attacks and bombings over the years.

Child: But we finally got bin Laden. I suppose Bush deserves some credit for that, doesn’t he?

Dad: Of course he does. Except that he took resources away from the war in Afghanistan to use in Iraq. And he said in 2003 that he wasn’t interested in finding bin Laden. And in 2005 he closed the CIA office that was dedicated to finding bin Laden.

Child: OK. Here’s what I’ve got so far. We went to war with Iraq because we were attacked on Sept 11 by people who didn't come from Iraq, weren’t trained in Iraq and had nothing to do with Iraq. And we sent a lot fewer troops after the real terrorists in Afghanistan who did attack us. We also went to war to destroy weapons of mass destruction which didn't exist and to kill a dictator who posed no threat to us. The Iraq war resulted in increased terrorism around the world. Instead of making Iraq more stable and peaceful, the country slipped into violent civil war. And, instead of a democracy, the government of Iraq is becoming an Islamic theocracy like Iran. So I just have one more question. What does former president Bush now think about the Iraq war?

Dad: Bush believes the Iraq war was a smashing success and says it's a model to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world.

Child: Maybe I should write a report about something less complicated, like Viet Nam.


Enuendo77 from hub pages U.S.A. on September 08, 2011:

Sounds about right to me. Great hub.

Charles James from Portugal on September 08, 2011:

An excellent hub. You let Bush off lightly, but to talk about the money his friends made out of the war, the way he got Bin Laden family members out of the USA covertly, and the failure to plan for post liberation Iraq will take many more hubs.

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