Friday, January 23, 2009

Iraq was a mistake

There has been a subtle but steady shift in the dialog around the Iraq War that has all but eliminated discussion of the actual merit of the invasion. The talk has been about the surge, did it work? How Iraq is now peaceful and ready to become a harmless, even supportive friend to the west. Bush and Cheney left town claiming that the war was won, we were safer for it, and they had saved lives.

The claim of saving lives is hard to believe when multiple reports put the violent deaths since the invasion at over 500,000. Keeping Americans safer doesn't seem to apply to the over 4,000 killed while serving in Irag, 1,000 more than the 9/11 event, with official estimates of wounded at over 30,000.

Under what scenario can one imagine Iraq attacking the US and causing those kinds of casualties? Call 9/11 all of the bad things that it deserves to be called but military genius doesn't apply to this action, it was truly a "Black Swan" of terrorist attacks, down to the collapse of the towers when the pilots were just hoping to hit the towers.

The question isn't whether anything like that can ever happen again, that answer is always maybe, but whether it is less likely to happen because of what we have been doing in Iraq. Is the pain and suffering this has injected into to the lives of those whose families fall into the groups affected by the gruesome death and injury statistics mentioned above outside of the benefits, and if so then who benefitted? You say 25 Million Iraqi's, but with 1 million killed, millions more displaced and a new set of alliances with Iran is that really true?

The reaction of the world community to 9/11 was an overwhelming extension of sympathy and support, but we took that opportunity and turned it into a strange vendetta for the Bush family, providing a war to make a Great Man out of Bush, with Rumsfeld and Cheney trying to out Churchill each other.

The Surge is a paradox, it is a timely event that has been met with calmer times, but it is also given sole credit for something that happened that may be due to other reasons. Some other factors include the payments to Iraqi's so that they wouldn't shoot at Americans, essentially protection money to for our soldiers in their country. Another factor is the switch from anger to greed that led Iraqi's to realize that the longer we stayed the more money we would spend, as indicated by the huge new Embassy which will be a significant part of non-oil GDP for Iraq. (Iraq gets 90% of its GDP from oil).

I'm glad there is less violence but also know that an American died yesterday and there is a very good chance that another will die before the week is out, good people who go back again because war is a strange drug that builds relationships and emotional ties that defy understanding to those that haven't experienced it firsthand.

The surge is the distraction that allowed the Hawks to divert discussions from the folly of the primary action with the idea that there was something that could be called success, and we all feel better because people like success more than failure. But the truth is closer to Vietnam and Korea than WWII, there is no success here, just the same old war stories we've had since Homer to be recorded in books and movies for the next generation to understand as history.

The only relevant point is this, would we have been less safe without going into Iraq, and the clear answer from all available facts is no. Would more than 4,000 more Americans have been killed by terrorists, would 30,000 be wounded, many disabled for life, all scarred forever? Would 500,000 people be dead from war related violence? Would hundred of thousands of peoples lives been changed forever due to a tour of duty in a war zone? Would over $1 Trillion and counting of US dollars have been spent on nonproductive efforts, much of it going into the hands of the people we are fighting?

You can talk about the surge all day long but the facts are clear, Iraq will go down in history as one of the worst presidential blunders of all times.

It is the big daddy ego trip of all ego trips in a time where we are living in the land of the giant ego trips. From the Mission Accomplished debacle to the plans for getting greeted with roses and riches by the Iraqi's, this has been one last drunk for W and a set of war games for the administrations neo-con war machine.

But above all, and finally, invading Iraq was a mistake.

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