Six years in Iraq, another proud milestone for freedom and democracy
“My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.” —George Bush 2003
It’s been six years since former President Bush announced that US forces were entering Iraq to defend us from the evil Saddam and his terrible weapons that could destroy American cities at any moment. Iraqis lined the streets and threw flowers as our heroic troops marched into their land and freed them from tyranny and oppression. It brings a tear to my eye just to think about, thousands of years of using armies to plunder and conquer, and finally a man had the vision to use military force to reshape the world for noble purposes.
Snort. Gag. Retch. Projectile vomiting. OK, this is very simple. If you thought that the US invasion of Iraq was about defending America and for the benefit of the Iraqi people, I have a bridge you might want to buy. Too subtle? OK, if you thought that Iraq was a threat to the USA, you’re an idiot. Maybe you’re not always idiotic, but your brain dropped the ball on this occasion. The idea that Saddam’s Iraq posed a “grave danger” to the world didn’t pass the laugh test.
Sure, if Saddam had really tried he might have been able to smuggle explosives or what not into American cities and pulled of some sort of 9/11. Maybe a dozen 9/11s. Tens of thousands of Americans dead. After which we would have turned Iraq into a parking lot. Saddam was evil, not stupid and suicidal. And of course every other country on the planet, hundreds of corporations, insurgent groups, and criminal organizations could do the same thing. My God, should we invade all them too?
Six years, and what has Bush’s war in Iraq wrought? Hundreds of thousands are dead, at least as many are wounded, including hundreds of thousands of American GIs. That’s right, hundreds of thousands of returning GIs may have brain injuries according to the Pentagon. Due to modern armour and medical care, guys that would have died in previous wars are now coming home alive … but with injuries that will haunt them their entire lives.
In fact, it’s fair to say that many of these men (and women) will die in the years to come from their injuries, and that Bush has done with their lives exactly what he did with our money. He spent it today, but the future will have to pay the bills. Deficit dying as it were. Not only are Americans still dying in Iraq, they will continue to die for decades even if we pull out tomorrow. Some accomplishment.
Six years later and I’m still angry. I’m angry that so many Americans bought the WMD nonsense and the idea that Iraq was some sort of threat to the USA. I’m angry that Americans are still dying and being maimed in Iraq. Yes, increasingly sophisticated attacks on US troops in Iraq continue, and they will never stop. And I’m angry that Americans simply forgot about the war when the violence slightly decreased. A permanent drain on our treasury and our youth’s blood, and we can’t even continue the public debate as to the wisdom of this? I guess not.
In any event despite the image above, I’m not trying to compare America to Nazi Germany, Bush was no Hitler. There is one parallel though that we ignore, when Hitler launched his crusade to reshape Europe by force of arms, there was a lot of justice in his cause. The Treaty of Versailles that Germany was forced to sign at gun point in World War War was a grossly unjust treaty. There were people at the time who said it would be the cause of the next war.
And by 1940 Hitler had rectified these wrongs, and he had his “Mission Accomplished” victory tour of Paris. Granted even by then his forces had done some very bad things, armies and soldiers always do bad things. No one imagined at this point just how bad it would get as Hitler got carried away by his success. In that sense we are fortunate that Bush’s invasion of Iraq was such a failure, if it hadn’t so quickly turned into a bloody mess Bush would almost certainly turned his sights on Iran and Syria. In that sense maybe the sacrifices of our dead in Iraq weren’t entirely pointless, they may have prevented Bush launching a much bigger bloodier war.
Finally, the point I’m dancing around with this post, it is far more accurate to say that “war makes monsters” than “monsters make war.” It doesn’t matter how noble your motives might be, war brings out the worst in men, not the best. At the Nuremberg Trials they decided that invasion was the mother of all war crimes, because it is the crime from which all the rest flow.
Six years later and I still think the invasion of Iraq was a terrible ghastly mistake. The people who predicted wonderful things would follow our invasion were naive at best, and liars at worst. Though Dick Cheney is much more than just a liar, but I’ve save his evil rantings for another day.
God rest the souls of all who have died in Bush’s misbegotten little war.
(The above picture is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is an historically important image. It’s Hitler on his one and only tour of Paris in 1940. I chose it because it’s high enough resolution that you can see the expression on their faces, click on the image for the full size version. The guy on Hitler’s left is Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect. They are trying to look noble, they just look hollow and lost to me. Hitler went on from this moment to end up dying by his own hand in a Berlin bunker in 1945. Speer not only survived the war, he survived the Nuremberg Trials as the “Nazi who said he was sorry.“)