Saturday, February 10, 2007

Looking Back at Iraq

Write me off as a peacenik all you want. But I have no doubt that the history books will tell this story accurately in time. And it boils down to this. For varying reasons, neo-conservative forces in the Bush admninistration wanted war with Iraq in the post 9/11 world. We can debate how nefarious these causes were, but there's no doubt that it was this cabal whose growing influence pushed a nation into war. A group led by life-long pals V.P. Dick Cheney and Sec of Def Don Rumsfeld convinced President Bush and, in turn, much of America and the free world that the case for war was strong.

A mere 4 years later, it turns out that their case was actually very weak from the beginning. That Iraq possessed WMDs? Wrong. That Iraq had a connection to terrorists like al-Quada that had attacked America before? Wrong. That a Saddam Hussein-led Iraq contributed to the instability of his nation and the Middle East? Apparently, even this is proven wrong as the vacuum of power left in Iraq makes the region more deadly everyday.

And this doesn't even concern the execution of the war and miscaluclations such as how we'd be greeted as liberators, how "shock and awe" would win the fight, how the insurrgency wasn't a factor to worry about, how 120,000 troops could pacify a bitter nation, how an Iraqi civil war wasn't likely, etc, etc.

We're not talking about a flawed, reversible government policy on the environment here. We're talking about mistakes that resulted in the largest conflict this nation has waged in 40 years. A war which has seen the killing of thousands and wounding tens of thousands of American troops. A war that has cost the US taxpayer $500 billion dollars and counting.

So while Iraq may have become an unpopular topic around here, this kind of stuff can never get old to me. Iraq may soon belong to the history books. But it is the next Iraq that scares me. And how such a mistaken cause for unnecessary war will make it all-the-more difficult for America and the world to identify future necessary causes for war. As if it wasn't hard enough already.

N.B. -- I have removed my original quoted references from a disputed story in the Washington Post on the Pentagon's pre-war case for a link between Saddam's Iraq and Al Queda. If the quotes are wrong then they have no place getting in the way of what I find an otherwise worthy debate. Thanks to longtime friend and recent sparring partner TSL for bringing this to my attention.

BTW, in my defense, this is my first Iraq post here in awhile. Iraq's always been my big politcal issue and I am always amazed more here don't obsess on it like me. Oh well. Anyway, I had a 45 minute phone call on Friday from a buddy of mine stationed in Samarra, Iraq. He was very insightful and I guess it got my juices flowing. While this guy is very proud of his service and ready to fight on orders, I can assure you that our military is growing frustrated over there. His basic point-of-view conveyed to me was that "these people over here have been fighting forever and there's not much we can do to stop them. But we sure are caught in the middle." Well put, I think, and I hate that our troops are in such a helpless spot. They deserve better.



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