Why the lead up to a potential attack on Syria has been different than Iraq

The Differences Between Iraq and Syria

Will Syria become another Iraq Experience? As President Obama gears up to make a public campaign for military strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, many have noted their fears of getting involved in Syria based on the fiasco that occurred in Iraq. Perhaps this fear is justified, but there are still major differences between Iraq and Syria.

What has become striking to me is the fact that unlike the build up to Iraq, there has been an aggressive debate about the merits of striking Syria. Perhaps the American people have finally learned a lesson about the dangers of rushing into a war in the Middle East. All in all, a majority of Americans oppose striking Syria, while in 2003 a majority supported going into Iraq.

When George W. Bush geared America for war in 2003, it was clear from the get-go what the intention of the operation was. It was to be a mass invasion of Iraq itself.  With 9/11 still fresh in everyone’s memory, the populace was easily coaxed by misinformation to support a mass invasion and occupation of Iraq. The media went hook-line and sinker for the war and there was very little debate as a result.

In the lead up to an operation in Syria, the scenario is quite different. Unlike the lead up to Iraq, a vast majority of people are opposed to the war in spite of the government’s campaign to push for it. Unlike Iraq, the plan proposed by Obama is far from a full scale invasion and is very limited in size and scope. The media also seems to be less gung-ho than ten years ago, especially after being criticized early on. Thanks to that early criticism there has been a much more aggressive effort to ask tough questions about the nature of a Syrian operation.

I find the Iraq analogy interesting because its been thrown around a lot, but honestly I don’t think it really applies here in Syria. Public attitude is much different now and that makes all the difference. It seems we have the disaster in Iraq to thank for the attitude ajustment. I think the public is far more wary of getting involved in foreign wars now, which is a precedent I would rather like to see continued.

None of this means the military is going to keep out of Syria of course. Historically speaking, if the drive for war is strong enough in congress, it doesn’t matter what the public’s opinion is. At the very least, it’s nice to see the lead up to a potential attack on Syria is being met with more scrutiny by the public and parts of the media.

Hopefully the Iraq experience has taught us to be cautious in going to war, which I hope is a precedent that continues. We already are seeing major differences between Iraq and Syria. Our recent experiences in the Middle East has left a bad taste in the mouths of the American public. If Iraq has taught us anything, it has taught us to ask a lot of questions first before we start shooting.


  1. Remember the last time the United States looked the other way on chemical weapons?

    In 1988, Saddam Hussein ordered chemical weapons attacks against Kurdish resistance forces, but the relationship with Iraq at the time was deemed too important to damage over the matter. The United States didn’t even impose sanctions. Two decades later Rumsfeld and other members of the George W. Bush administration repeatedly cited Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against own people as a justification for invading Iraq.

    If Assad’s actions go unchallenged or are only meekly challenged, more “anything goes” behavior from him and others will surely follow. The world’s response to Syria is not just about Syria. It is also about ensuring the freak show of Assad-like leaders around the world recognize it is in their interest to adhere to the fundamental rules of a civilized planet.

    • I hear you on the use of chemical weapons, and obviously I’m not a huge fan of Assad. However, I don’t see how killing people with chemical weapons is worse than killing people with bullets and bombs. If it was indeed the deathtoll and the Syrian people we worry about, why didn’t we intervene 100.000 people ago? If it is indeed chemical weapons that we are only focused on, then the message we are sending is that its okay to slaughter your own people as long as you don’t gas them. That still fails to justify any humanitarian reason to get involved in Syria.

    • whofights for assad ? the syryan people .who fihts against assad ? isis made up by alqueda ,nosalar and moore radical islamist terrorist .who pays isis ?america who gives isis weapons merica is godless and kills iraqui christians and none in america gives ashit you dont give ashit you only pray to money the tyrant murder obama the murderessclinton and mc cain kill more christian inegypt than nero, obama the murderer promised syrya to saudi murderers to do asthey please you dont like assad syrya has churches synaguoges and mosque saudi has religious police and jails and those are your friends and americas friends? go to saudi fhilty lier and get beheaded you dserve it rotting capitalist every one must suffer so you make your dividend god knows your lies and your greed you sell your soul and all people for profits curse you to hell

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