“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius–and a lot of courage–to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein (mathematician)
Five years ago (and six months prior to the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003) my column in the Ozaukee News-Graphic (in response to the just-initiated Bush Administration PR campaign to invade Iraq) warned that “Targeting Iraq when no evidence exists and none of the hijackers were Iraqi … indicate(s) that we are off course and heading for the rocks.” There was substantial reader response to that column. There were calls for firing me, and for readers to cancel their subscriptions and their advertising. But, bottom line, 80 percent of all reader response sent to the newspaper agreed with my commentary and brief re-cap of history, archived only here.
“The Madness Must End – September 2002” was unique at the time, appearing in a general readership newspaper, circulated in Ozaukee County, the wealthiest per capita in Wisconsin, which has lately voted the straight Republican ticket by a 2-to-1 margin, with partisan local elections usually uncontested. In stark and pathetic contrast, the US mass media, both broadcast and print (together with most elected representatives) failed to question the justification for invading Iraq while there was still time to stop it.
Most (but not quite all) Senators and Representatives voted almost five years ago to authorize an invasion of Iraq, based on assertions and assurances which were highly suspect at the time, and have proven to be false. The official justifications and propaganda prior to invading Iraq were the false allegations that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that imminently threatened the American people at home, the repeated false implications that Iraq was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the fabrication that al Qaeda was connected to the Iraqi government. The Administration assured us that taking Iraq would be “a cakewalk”, and that we “will be greeted as liberators”.
No “weapons of mass destruction” were found. Iraq was in no way responsible for the September 11, 2001 attack on America. Not even a single hijacker was from Iraq. There was no Al Qaeda presence in, or even connection to Iraq before the US invaded. The harsh but simple truth is that Iraq and her people were innocent of all accusations made prior to the invasion, and thus the invasion was an unjustified illegal war of aggression. The invasion was a clear and quick military victory by our troops, and the Iraqi Army was quickly dispersed and overwhelmed. The administration devised after-the-fact justifications for invading Iraq to replace the others that couldn’t hold water. But the last four and a half years have hardly been a cakewalk for those shouldering the load in Iraq.
“… tho’ the soldiers knew Someone had blunder’d: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.”
“The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Tennyson 1855 (a poet without combat experience)
The military invasion was executed virtually without flaw by U.S. military troops, but the fact that the invasion itself was unjustified, and that the Iraqi people had done nothing to harm or even threaten America, planted the inevitable seeds of righteous patriotic resistance. When the brilliant military victory of the invasion and conquest of Iraq was followed by an armed occupation and an arbitrary and ineffective government by foreign decree, those seeds of resistance were fertilized.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, mostly women and children, have died in the violence of the invasion and the four-plus years of continuing occupation. Millions of Iraqis are now destitute refugees in neighboring Middle East countries. These daily increasing casualties of the occupation fuel a white-hot anger, and breed insurrection. The Administration claimed that its policy would bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. Instead it brought death, deprivation, and daily indignity, and inevitably provoked the resistance to become an armed and desperate insurrection.
One of the tragedies of this neo-con misadventure in Iraq is that honorable, victorious, courageous American troops are now occupying an unwilling country, and engaged in trying to quell an understandable insurrection of Iraqi patriots opposing a foreign military occupation.
American troops, without the necessary language and historical and cultural knowledge, are also in the untenable position of refereeing a civil war that has erupted during the occupation that followed their military victory in 2003. That civil war is a direct legacy of the ethnic tensions and arbitrary national boundaries established after World War I by the British colonial regime.
And the continuing occupation of Iraq, with the millions of deaths, casualties, and homeless refugees, reinforces worldwide al Qaeda recruitment and propaganda. The destruction of the Iraqi regime in 2003 opened Iraq, for the first time, to suicidal foreign al Qaeda combatants who now attack and kill American troops and Iraqis, and provoke sectarian violence.
The U.S. military quickly won the war Bush started in 2003. But three predictable, intractable nasty new wars sprang up to replace the war the troops already won with honor.
Politicians who support this invasion and occupation of Iraq, and who want our troops to stay there and fight these three new wars, are satisfied to place the entire blood and guts burden on the troops who are there, and who have already been there. These chicken-hawks will not dare to require that ALL Americans equally share the danger and burden of these unending, escalating conflicts by instituting a fair and universal draft with NO exemptions or deferments for the privileged. They say they “support the troops”, yet they cut funds and programs for veterans, and scapegoat a few non-coms and privates for systematic policies of human rights violations. They refuse to hold accountable those who establish the policies of torture, and secret imprisonment without recourse, and the employment of unregulated mercenaries. They vote to provide funds (without any conditions) to continue this illegal occupation indefinitely. And they will not even consider paying the stupendous financial burden as we go. Instead, they make a mockery of their so-called fiscal conservative roots by shoving the entire debt being incurred for this occupation on the children and on generations yet unborn.
“We’re waist deep in the Big Muddy, And the big fool says to push on.”
Pete Seeger, 1967 (Army veteran, sentenced to 10 years in 1953 for contempt of Congress)
How can anyone swallow the latest assurances and urging to stay the course, from an Administration that has so misled and misinformed us for years? Terrible mistakes were made that cannot be corrected by feigning denial and by pushing on. Might doesn’t make right. And two wrongs don’t make a right. If the President and members of Congress are unwilling to face the consequences, then we must require them to do so, or face impeachment and trial.
Four long years ago US military forces won the war in Iraq within a couple months.
And now that we all know without a doubt how wrong were the Administration’s “facts” and the justification for starting a war in Iraq, it is long past time to Honor the Troops for their victory and their service, bring them finally home, and End the Occupation of Iraq now.