Tuesday March 11, 2014
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It has been a long time since we went to war in Iraq — ten years in fact, all the way back in 2003. One of the longest and most contentious strings we ever had was one that asked, "What is victory in Iraq?"
We ended up by saying that victory would occur when we achieved our goals.
The nine publicly stated goals as we went to war over there were:
Find and remove the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Destroy the Iraqi WMD factories.
Remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Eliminate Iraq as a base for terrorists.
Eliminate Al Qaida.
Stop the killing of innocent Iraqis.
Create a stable secular Iraqi government.
Make our nation secure.
Lower and stabilize oil prices.
That was ten years ago. We exited Iraq two years ago in 2011. There has at long last been time enough for us to calmly sit back and answer the big question we asked way back then.
The Question Is....
Did we achieve a victory in Iraq?
Or if you prefer, Are we any better off now than we were before we went in?
I appreciate that America has "strategic interests" in the Middle East, but for the life of me, I cannot see where anyone in that whole area poses a "direct" threat to the safety and security of this nation. People who live under dictatorships and despotism are the ones who will eventually have to rid themselves of that circumstance, if THEY want to! The American idea of "democracy" is simply foreign to so many of the Eastern cultures that it is tantamount to explaining quantum physics to an elephant. That GWB chose to put us into Iraq/Afghanistan with the majority of congress supporting that action, is by no means a legitimate reason to shed American blood for people who simply cannot fathom the concept, that most Americans have ingrained into their DNA, of freedom. It is as alien to them as Sharia Law is to American jurisprudence and system of justice.
Whether Iraq or Afghanistan, I have never been of the view that there are any direct threats to America's security from those countries that could not be properly dealt with via a few cruise missiles from aircraft or seaborne vessels, or armed drones. Whatever the circumstance dictates. Our technology today permits us to do that. The only purpose for ground troops is to "occupy terrain". We have zilch use for any of their terrain.
Are we better off now than before? The facts speak for themselves and are in direct contradiction to anyone that thinks we are. Instead of "removing the threat of Al Qaida and the horrors of Saddam, we have only broadened their influence and range. Look at Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. It's as if instead of irradiating the cancer and destroying it at it's source, we have caused it to spread far beyond it's original site. This country is going to be paying for those "strategic blunders" way beyond your and my lifetimes.
Ron, if I added a word to what you said, in my opinion I'd only be repeating the truth.
Maybe there's another question that needs to be asked:
Is there anything we should learn from all this?
To answer that question is going to require a very subjective response. The USA is exceptional when viewed in light of other nations and cultures. It's not that those other countries and their people are not exceptional in their own right, just that due to the genesis of America, few if any other countries were born with individual freedom as their bedrock foundation. And I think that is what makes us special. We have a "culture" that is comprised of bits and pieces of every other culture in the world. It seems recently we are becoming "Balkanized" due to a plethora of socio/political reasons. That bodes poorly for this nation if that trend continues. Time will tell, but more directly to your last question, this nation should have learned that not everyone in the world actually wants our involvement in THEIR problems. We should focus on the issues facing us directly in this nation and be supportive of those in other countries that actually want and appreciate our assistance. Otherwise we need to stay out of those countries.
We are not the world police. I notice, for example, that France (and someone else but I forget who) is going into the Central African Republic — wherever that is — to protect people from fanatics. If the world is going to do more to protect innocent people we need to let the WORLD do it, and not butt into every problem that crops up.
You know one other thing that I think made this nation so strong in its beginning and continues even today? It was the fact that we were born from 13 sovereign nations — states — and so the concept was born that there should never be one central power. That may sound less efficient than what we see elsewhere, but it has proven to work, and it goes along with the idea that power flows from the people to the government.
I'd sure like to see some way that concept could be expanded, a flow of ideas upward instead of the current flow of rules and decisions downward.
But Iraq? Terrible mistake! As far as I can see it has made nothing better, and it cost an immense amount of money we didn't have. I've read that it has cost us $2.2 trillion in costs plus benefits we will have to pay out, and with the interest we will have to pay on that, the total cost could go to $6 trillion. I'd a whole lot rather have seen the actual $1.7 trillion we spent put into the national debt. It would have just about cut it in half ten years ago, and I can't think of anything — not anything! — which would have made this country and the whole world better off.
But the "It's our responsibility to perform Nation Building and institute our democratic principals" mantra has crept into our geo-political agenda. Yes, corrupt dictator's practice free choice suppression and even genocide of certain factions of their own populations. But it should not and can not result in the USA being the worlds policeman
Right, Don. No one wants to stand by while terrible wrongs are being done, but it is a world problem, and the world has to deal with it, not just us.
You know what feels really lousy?
Knowing full well that we were being taken for a ride when we went into Iraq, having to wait ten years for the proof of it, plus having to pay for the %$#@! thing.
You know the part that really gets me about all this?
I'm going to surprise you here. It isn't the fact that we all knew there was no WMD in Iraq, not is it the fact that Bush et al pushed us into the war in a mad rush because they knew that in just 45 to 90 more days the U.N. inspectors who were searching every square inch of Iraq for WMD were going to issue a final statement that there were none, nor is it even the fact that they really went in there to get their hands on all that Iraqi oil.
Nope. None of the obvious things.
It's something far more important.
Think back. Do you remember those long lines of Iraqi soldiers walking home? Do you remember what I was screaming back then? No? Here it is!
Are you out of your mind? Why are you disbanding the Iraqi Army? Those are professional soldiers, not draftees. Being in the Army is their only way of making a living. You are about to create a 350,000 man army of dissidents who will become terrorists — and not the usual terrorists; these terrorists will be trained in the use of weapons and tactics.
I even wrote a letter — not an email — to the Defense Department pointing out how many American soldiers were going to die because of decisions coming down from politicians who didn't realize what they were doing.
I suggested that instead of doing what we were doing we drop leaflets telling the Iraqi soldiers to report back to their home bases and to bey the orders of their superiors, and I pointed out that we had to be sure to complement them on the good fight they had put up and tell them that their jobs, their families, and their future were secure.
I pointed out that we could always remove anyone in the ranks, no matter how high up, who really had to go, but that by enlisting the Iraqi Army on OUR side we could let them take care of ridding the country of Al Qaeda et al. That would have put Muslims in charge of taking care of Islamic fanatics, something a lot better than trying to do it ourselves, which was doomed to failure.
And the final thing I told them was that their "18 month to 2 years to end all fighting and settle with any dissidents" was going to turn into 8 to 10 years if they didn't do it.
All that can be checked. I put it right in the posts at the time.
You can see how much attention they paid to it.
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