Seeds: America supported Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein initially, mainly because the Iranian Revolution in 1979 caused upheaval, and the United States was worried that this unrest would spark instability throughout the Middle East, allowing a Soviet Invasion. Later, due to Hussein’s unfair and drastic economic policies, Iraq’s oil industry began to collapse, causing Iraq to invade Kuwait, an oil rich country that had supposedly been “drilling horizontally” into Iraqi soil for years. This action sparked international outrage and caused the Gulf War in 1990, marking an obvious end to the US’s support of Hussein. His harsh dictatorship was only quelled for so long, and in 2003 the US invaded Iraq again because many believed Hussein was creating weapons of mass destruction and that he was linked to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda (the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks). The United States began withdrawing its troops from Iraq in 2007 under President Bush, until 2011, when all the troops were withdrawn. Some argue that withdrawing these troops without installing a more cohesive government in Iraq allowed for the rise of terrorist regimes such as ISIS to take over.
Core: Recently, a top military officer stated at a defense briefing that the United States will most likely increase its number of troops in Iraq to fight against ISIS in the coming weeks. In 2014, President Obama sent troops to train the Iraqi forces against ISIS and to oversee airstrikes in the region. Since 2014, the US has had between 4,500 and 5,000 troops in Iraq.
Skin: Especially because of the upcoming presidential election, there is a great deal of discussion on what actions should be taken in regards to the problems in the Middle East. Some (mainly Republicans) argue that sending “boots on the ground,” or group troops specifically there to fight in combat rather than advice or oversee, is the only way to truly stop the terrorist organization. Others (mainly Democrats) argue that too many lives were lost in the previous Iraq war and that putting American soldiers’ lives in danger is unnecessary to defeat ISIS.
Leaves: It is unclear at this moment how many troops will be added to bolster the defense against ISIS, as well as what kind of role they will be playing. The most recent polls suggest that 53% of Americans do not want “boots on the ground,” and 43% do (4% have no opinion on the issue).
Food For Thought: Do you think that the United States should add ground troops to fight against ISIS? Or just launch more airstrikes? Do you think that President Bush made the right decision entering the Iraq war?