After the reasons that led to the American war in Iraq have been proven to be disingenuous (WMD and the link between Saddam and Al Qaeda), where will this war be classified in history?
I certainly agree with your statement about American involvement in Iraq being disingenuous for just the reasons you state. I believe the conflict will go down in history as being a decision by President Bush based on his personal hatred for Saddam, and his desire for payback for the bounty Saddam had previously put on Bush's father, the former president. Sadly, it has cost America thousands of lives and a wrecked economy.
Like the previous post said, you will have to wait a long time and see what happens. As of right now, this war on terrorism has been wisely classified by the various names of the operations that have taken place in Iraq: Just Cause, Dessert Shield, etc. This is a wise thing to do because we can honor the different maneuvers, troops, and reasons behind each of the movements rather than generalize everything under the umbrella of "a war with Iraq". Personally I hope this never goes in the history books because the diversification of this particular conflict makes it almost impossible to classify it under one same event. It just branched out in so many directions that it would be unfair for those who served and their families to stuff it all into one same thing under a historical label.
We cannot really know the answer to this until we find out how Iraq turns out. If Iraq continues to be a somewhat unstable country that tends towards autocracy and/or which spreads instability in its region, the war will be seen as a failure. If Iraq turns to democracy and becomes a force for stability in the region, the war will be seen as a success, regardless of the reasons for which it started. So, I think that we have to see what the final result is because history tends to judge events more on their outcomes than on the motives which gave rise to them.
The classification and historical perspective of the war in Iraq is something that cannot be answered yet. It will take time and distance to fully be able to assess such a condition, and even then, more time and distance will be needed to fully understand it. What can be presented on it will only be individual impressions and, by no means, should be taken as comprehensive or some statement on classification of an ongoing conflict. I think that the war will be seen as one where the public was caught up, swept up, in the complex emotions of the attacks on September 11.
There was an overwhelming public endorsement for the war. Certainly, the claims of WMD and/or because of Al- Qaeda will be a part of this analysis. Yet, I think that the overwhelming support of the war will be a part of this historical narrative regarding it. Democratic nominee for President John Kerry in 2004 could not overcome the "flip- flop" stance on the war. The words, "I was for it before I was against it" helped to doom his candidacy. Additionally, the Presidential election of 2008, especially on the Democrat side of the ledger had the issue of the war loom large. Candidates Edwards and Clinton could not overcome the hurdle that they had voted for the war and supported it, and since the war appeared politically disastrous at the time, they were running for cover. Part of Candidate Obama's appeal was that he was able to unequivocally state that his opposition to the war was present from the start. The political dynamic helped to reflect how the war's zeal and enthusiasm was present at its start.
Yet, in writing the narrative of the Iraq War, there has to be some discussion points of value to it. For example, the fundamental question is whether or not the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. Proponents of the war point to this point and it is a convincing one. I am not sure anyone would argue that the former Iraqi dictator was a light of freedom and human rights for the world. Additionally, helping to establish democracy and self- rule is not a bad thing, in its own right. There are many more pitfalls to associate with these elements. The Al Qaeda insurgence rise, the factionalism that resulted in Iraq that was not adequately addressed or anticipated, the failed beliefs that Americans would be "greeted" as heroes, as well as the high death and casualty count are all part of this discussion. Yet, I think that the classification of the Iraq War will be a complex one, and one that possesses thought and intricacy to it as a part of its historical narration.