Monday, December 26, 2011

Are The Holidays A Bad Time To Remind People That The Iraq War Was A Hideously Bad Idea?

By Manifesto Joe

Tact was never one of my strong suits, so I'm going to go ahead with this. It isn't that the U.S. has never "invaded" another country -- I think the Vietnamese can attest to that. But at least the anti-communist crusade of the later 20th century was a somewhat better reason for that adventure, ill-fated though it clearly was.

This time, it was so transparent, I can't see how the Il Doofus administration got a majority of the Senate, including Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, to more or less vote for this fiasco.

It didn't turn out to be quite as expensive as Vietnam, at least from the U.S. standpoint. There were a lot more amputees and nonfatal casualties, thanks to better medicine and equipment. U.S. deaths numbered less than 4,500, compared with about 58,000 in Vietnam. The proportion of wounded and permanently maimed, relatively weighed, was larger.

But a sad thing is that brown-skinned people don't seem to count in the eyes of many Americans. It's estimated that well over 1.4 million Iraqis died as a result of the war of 2003-2011. And, if you check the news posts of recent days, they are still dying. Apparently it isn't over yet.

I never believed any of the administration's bullshit, not from day one. They had no "weapons of mass destruction" credibly documented, and as it turns out, they never did. The administration basically forced Colin Powell to lie to the U.N. to engineer some kind of credibility for this invasion. And it's not hard to see what the true motives were.

It's certainly true that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, one who largely modeled himself and his methods after Josef Stalin. But, Saddam was being very effectively contained. And, the U.S. has not merely tolerated, but has actually supported, many dictators just as bad. Those despots just happened to be rancid butter on the right side of the bread.

The widespread political ignorance of the American people was largely exposed during this farce. If you went out onto the streets and asked many Americans about this war -- to this day, many would mistakenly say that Saddam was allied with Al Qaeda, that he actually did have "weapons of mass destruction," that he was linked to the 9/11 attacks, and so forth. The Il Doofus administration eventually had to admit that none of the above was true. But the propagandists had worked the damage long before that, and lastingly.

Now, as I understand it, the U.S. has basically put the Iraqi government du jour on notice that no more military intervention is forthcoming. There will be diplomatic missions, but even if Iraq erupts into civil war in coming months -- which looks entirely possible -- no more American troops will be sent in.

The rotten motive for this war is not hard to see, and never really was. If this place hadn't had oil, and lots of it, no one in the Western world would have considered them worth a second thought.

Problem was, how to get it out. Pipelines would get blown up. There were never enough workers to get it out of the fields, anyway. A place with so much turmoil isn't a place that can be a reliable supplier of cheap oil to a dominating Western nation.

So, it turned out to be, as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi phrased it, "a grotesque mistake."

A lot of people thought that Barack Obama, once in the presidency, should have hastened U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. After all, he'd opposed the invasion from the start, to his credit. But Obama apparently felt that he had to take the advice of experienced military minds, and then proceed with a withdrawal slowly. After nearly three years, it has only recently been concluded. (Well, sort of. There are still a hell of a lot of "advisers" there.)

A sad thing for Obama is that, if civil war does indeed erupt in Iraq in coming months, Obama's Republican rivals will probably depict him as weak, that he pulled the troops out too soon, and that he shouldn't have announced a specific timetable. But if he decides to be a "hawk" and send U.S. troops back there, then he'd be a reckless warmonger. You can't win when confronted with fools.

Something I ran into along the way, as a center-left blogger, is the argument that the "surge" worked. What the "surge" appears to have done was to simply drive the Iraqi insurgency into hiding, with them waiting for the U.S. exit, then to re-emerge. Now, absent a U.S. occupation, it looks like they're coming back out. And they were always going to, no matter how long it took. When it's your country, you're usually willing to wait.

I am profoundly sad, not only for those Americans who died in this nasty desert, but also for those who left arms, legs and minds behind in the horrific slaughter. And I have numerically more sorrow for the many, many more Iraqis who died and were exiled, some perhaps never to return.

I am reminded of an old U.S. literary debate between poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish and poet and literary critic Malcolm Cowley.

MacLeish, who served as an officer in World War I, argued that there was a just cause that Americans died for during that war. But looking back, how much difference was there, essentially, between the Britain-France alliance, and the Kaiser's Germany?

Cowley was with the American Field Service during the war. His argument back was, basically, that they (Americans) died for nothing. I fear that he was right.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


SJ said...

In answer to your titular question: Never.
Pointing out that it was sold to Americans in a "Gulf of Tonkin" type of narrative (read: lie) may also be uncomfortable, but necessary.
Great piece (and Merry Xmas to you) Joe.

Cletis said...

"rancid butter on the right side of the bread." The best line I've seen in a spell. I fear but believe Iraq will Balkanize within a year. Secularism trumps nationalism every time.

Cletis said...

Joe, been thinking about this post the last few days. I'll reprint it with proper attribution and I appreciate the honor of doing so. Your thoughts engender thinking. Always a good thing.

Jack Jodell said...

Liberals must never again be duped into supporting blatantly imperialistic wars, and they must courageously stand up to all advocates and perpetrators of such.