Five years of progress in Iraq…at what price “Mission Accomplished?”
Five years ago today American forces rolled into Iraq. America resurgent after 9/11, we set forth to rid the world of threats. Most thought it was a great idea to eliminate Saddam and the possibility that he could threaten the USA. Some of us didn’t. And unlike so many of our “leaders,” I said so from the beginning. While I am ashamed for my country, this isn’t some moralistic stand on my part. I opposed the invasion of Iraq for a very simple reason. It was a stupid stupid idea.
Five years later, what do we have to show for it? Has there been any positive benefit? Not for the thousands of dead Americans. Not for their families. Not for the ten thousand or more maimed Americans. Not for the one third of American veterans who will suffer lasting physical or psychological problems stemming from their service in Iraq. And we’re all feeling the cost, a trillion dollars and rising, only World War Two was a costlier war. A long ways from the fifty billion dollars-a few hundred dead Americans we were promised by the proponents of this adventure.
And of course this hasn’t been all been fun and games for Iraq. Hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced. By almost any standard Iraq is far worse off than it was under Saddam. By these benchmarks, the war has been a disaster…yet some still say it was a good idea? This is like arguing that the crusades were a good idea. Quick review: The crusaders burned and looted the great Christian city of Constantinople. If destroying the capitol city of the nation one came to protect is not the definition of complete failure, I don’t know what is. This would be like if in World War Two the Americans decided D-Day would be too tough, so they looted and burned London instead.
Yet here we are more than 1000 years later and we did it again. America has destroyed the very nation we claimed we were going to save, at astronomical cost to boot. Our leaders promised rivers of peace and rivers of oil in Iraq, instead we got rivers of blood. If this isn’t a failed mission, I don’t know what is. So we should stay? We have a created a far worse problem than existed before, this isn’t progress…at least not progress in any positive direction. I don’t care what the captain says, the ship is clearly going down, not up.
Should we withdraw? Of course we should. The best argument for withdrawal is the people who predict terrible things will happen if the US pulls out. Why? Aside from the fact that it’s hard to imagine anything more terrible happening than what has already transpired, the people who are predicting calamity if we pull out are the very same people who predicted calamity if we didn’t invade. Huh? Well, they were wrong in all their predictions about the invasion of Iraq, so I think we can safely ignore their predictions about the calamity that will befall when we withdrawal.
Notice I said “when we withdrawal.” I still think the same as I did when this war started: There is no doubt the USA will be pulling out of Iraq, it’s simply a matter of how soon and how ignominiously. And the longer we put it off, the more ignominious it’s going to be. It’s stunning to me the patronizing conceit that many just assume this is the USA’s decision. Um, if the USA decides how long we stay in Iraq, doesn’t that contradict the idea that Iraq is a free and sovereign nation?
It’s like poker, you gotta know when to hold em, and you gotta know when to fold them. Of course if we withdrew from Iraq it would be admitting failure and defeat. And that more than anything is why we are staying, it’s because Bush can’t bear to admit that once again, like every business venture he has ever engaged in, he has failed. It’s not about oil, it’s not about defending America, it’s not about terrorism…it’s about the pride of a small man who cannot admit failure.
I don’t think our nation will never be the same after this. I know I’m not, and the war isn’t over yet. God rest the souls of all who have died as a result of America’s misaligned war in Iraq. God grant peace to all those who have survived. God save us all.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: AP Tomorrow I am going to expand on why Iraq failed, and was doomed to fail, comparing it to similar failures like Market Garden or The Battle of the Bulge.)