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Reporter lectures on Iraq conflict

Lauren Jacobi | Thursday, September 10, 2009

The war in Iraq confuses most of the American public, a former military correspondent said in a lecture Wednesday.

Thomas E. Ricks, former correspondent for the Washington Post and current Contributing Editor for Foreign Policy Magazine, shared his knowledge and views on the war in Iraq during a lecture entitled “Three Things Americans Don’t Understand About the War in Iraq Right Now” Wednesday

“There are thousands of things Americans don’t know when it comes to the War in Iraq, but there are three things that are the most crucial,” Ricks said.

Ricks’ first point was that Americans do not realize just how difficult the surge was in 2007.

“It was a horrific nightmare. The first half of 2007 was the toughest fighting Americans have ever seen,” Ricks said.

Ricks reiterated this point as he revealed the number of troops killed in each month from February to May 2007 – a total that reached almost 400.

Ricks said the surge ultimately failed. The war has not improved, and in fact, one of George W. Bush’s original premises for the war – to improve the security in Iraq by installing a stable democracy – is nowhere close to being accomplished, Ricks said.

“All we’ve done is postpone an inevitable civil war,” Ricks said. “With every passing day, a civil war is becoming more and more likely.”

The war is far from over, Ricks said. The situation in Iraq is a long-term problem that will require troops to remain in Iraq for many years.

For those who might claim otherwise, Ricks argued that there are three problems which make it impossible to end the war in the short term.

The first problem is the three upcoming elections in Iraq, Ricks said. Unlike the United States where elections occur peacefully, elections in Iraq bring violent disputes.

According to Ricks, the second and third problems comprise a Catch-22: the small number of troops withdrawn prevents Iraq from securing independent stability, but at the same time, the fewer troops present the more likely that Iraq will descend into civil war.

“Obama’s war in Iraq will be longer than Bush’s,” Ricks said.

Ricks explained the paradox of pulling troops out of Iraq: “Staying in Iraq is immoral, but leaving is even more immoral.”