Thursday, December 15, 2011

End Of An Error

So the news today on my Yahoo ticker said that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ‘officially’ ended the Iraq War - the longest war in American history, nine-plus years.
Thank God.
This was a war that should have never been started. And before I am taken to task for Thursday-morning Quarterbacking or for the expected ‘there goes that liberal again’, let me just state that I was never in favor of this war. I recall the run-up to it in late 2002 and early 2003, when then-President Bush was ginning up the threat by Saddam Hussein and then-Secretary of Defense Colin Powell addressing the United Nations, thinking, ‘My God they better be right.’
They weren’t. Not even in the same country (literally) as being right.
This was a war launched with dubious claims about a far-away dictator that presumably was set on attacking us. The decision was made in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and instead of focusing our response on those responsible for those attacks, a ‘threat’ was drummed up that was really a personal vendetta. Saddam tried to kill Bush’s daddy, so he must pay. So, instead of going after al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we went after the guy Bush wanted for his own visceral pleasure. Saddam had to pay, so give me a reason to make him.
Now, disagree with that if you must, and I know many must. Usually those neoconservatives that, to this day, insist it was a justified war. The problem with that mindset is, then, what exactly were we trying to accomplish there? Because that became a moving target - first it was about WMD. When none were found it was about ousting Saddam. Well, that could have been done with one very strategically placed bullet, not an invasion. Then it became about transferring Iraq into a bastion of Democracy amid a sea of Islamic fundamentalists. Then it was about staving off the easily-predicted civil war that we instigated. Then it was about not letting Iran take control of a country that we hoovered the leaders out of. Remember Dick Cheney saying we would be greeted as liberators? How did that work out?
You can tell when someone is losing an argument when they constantly change the rationale for starting it in the first place.
Here's what was accomplished - Over 4,400 Americans killed - more than died on 9/11. Over 100,000 Iraqis dead.
And for what? Panetta said nice words today, letting the troops know that their efforts were not in vain. Well of course he would say that. The troops were and are heroes - maybe even an elevated status of hero, for they did not question, only sacrificed. So my eternal gratitude goes to those that served, and they really had no choice - they gave oaths the defend and not question decisions made by those far above them. Their sacrifice is honorable and just.
It is those that put us into that quagmire that should be scorned.
Dick Cheney. Don Rumsfeld. George Tenet. John Ashcroft. And George W. Bush. The blood is on your hands.
Look where we are today. Awash in debt since the war was unfunded (and taxes were cut). No safer than before, because, again, no WMDs were found. Weakened. Military forces strained, battle weary and fatigued. Over 30,000 troops with missing limbs or other injuries and countless more emotionally crippled -  that we now must take care of for the rest of their lives.
Yet despite all that, there are some who stubbornly and reality-vacated cling to the notion that leaving Iraq now is wrong. John McCain stated yesterday that we could face “failure” in Iraq if we pull out now. Well, Senator, with all due respect to your personal sacrifices, exactly what did we “win”? What gains are in jeopardy? Iran may swoop in? Well gosh, why wasn’t that considered before we even pulled the damn trigger in the first place? And lastly, just how much longer should we stay there? A decade? A century?
I am going to reserve expanding on my thoughts here as to what should be done with those that supported this mess and still do to this day. Yes, I understand that Congress authorized war actions - at the insistence of the adminstration's claims and through incendiary 'You're with us or you're with the terrorists' rhetoric - but for those that still, to this day, think it was the right thing to do, honestly, have and should lose all authority to make any such decisions in the future.

This was a war that had no other reason than to make certain people in power feel better. Bush declared himself a 'Wartime President', as if that justified whatever other bumblings he accomplished through his tragic presidency. He will go down as the only president to start an elective war, a war that did not need to occur. We were not threatened, there was nothing in our national interest at stake, other than his misplaced and swollen pride. Worst president ever? How could he not be?
In summary, the only thing that can be said, and the only real positive statement that can be made about this vulgar and immoral mess was made by President Obama yesterday -
Welcome home.
You never should have left in the first place.

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