It’s been six years since the “shock and awe” of the war in Iraq. And it’s been just about that same period since I launched this blog in late March 2003. At the time, I wrote that I was not sure what it would become. I’m still not sure, but have been having fun — with a few off and on breaks — just expressing my views. For those who honor me by reading, thank you. For those who could care less, thank you, too, for again teaching me humility.
John McCain said in an interview yesterday that when American troops can return from Iraq is “not too important.” Campaigns Collide Over McCain Remark [NYTimes.com].
This position may not, as the Times reported, be much different from McCain’s explanation of his “100 years” comment, but it is nonetheless revealing. John McCain has morphed from an outspoken maverick to an old man protecting traditional Republican thinking and constituencies —regardless of reality — in the space of a few short years. That’s disappointing and scary, but it is just the start of a long Presidential campaign of negativity of which we are just beginning to see the first glances.
Now Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, says in a classified report that the U.S. military’s current commitments overseas may prevent it from adequately fighting future conflicts.
Duh! Waging war on two fronts simultaneously has doomed armies from Napoleon to Hitler, so why should the United States be any different? Maybe the neocons running defense policy in the Bush Administration should have thought of this before embarking on the current, nation-building occupation of Iraq. At least Myers is honest. He’s the one who admitted last week that the insurgency in Iraq hasn’t lessened at all in the past year.
The insurgency in Iraq is “about where it was a year ago,” in terms of attacks, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday, but he also asserted that American and Iraqi troops are “gaining ground” in the two-year-old conflict. Yeah, right (not). It was a quagmire two years ago and is worse now. $300 billion and counting (it was only $150 billion last September) and we’re not out yet. “Shock and awe” has been transformed into long lines of flag-draped coffins, pictures suppressed by the military in order to avoid letting the American people know the real price of this occupation.
I am all for spreading democracy and freedom, and am overjoyed that America is finally — after many decades of Machievallian foreign policy — fighting against fascism and tyranny. But in Iraq we’re engaged, pure and simple, in nation-building to protect the human rights of people who bascially either hate or are indifferent to us. Who cares? Let them rot in the desert. We knocked off Saddam Hussein — a very good thing — so let’s get the hell out of there, leave Iraq to the Iraqis, and go after the real “Axis of Evil” in the world. How about Al Qaeda, you morons!!
The chief U.S. weapons-hunter in occupied Iraq, David Kay, now says that “we are very unlikely to find large stockpiles of weapons. I don’t think they exist.” Ex-Iraq Arms Hunter Blames Data for Failure | LATimes.com. So White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced in reaction that “Saddam Hussein’s regime was a gathering threat, and in a post-Sept. 11 world, we must confront gathering threats before it is too late.”
That’s well and true. But is it necessary to lie to your own people, and the world, in order to do so? The sad part is that the Bushies would have had the same overwhelming support of Americans — and the same opposition from the goodie-goodies and pacificsts at the UN and the EU — had they come straight and not manufactured stories about Saddam’s WMD stockpiles. Now, in hindsight, the whole thing is looking very much silly.
It’s way too late to argue that imminent threat of WMDs was not the principal justification for the war. That the Bush Administration’s continued efforts to try to deny and deflect reality shows only their disdain for real democracy or their underlying hubris — or maybe both.
Conservatives have had a field day with Ted Kennedy’s speech of yesterday, calling him a “gassbag” who cannot handle the truth. “The truth is,” according to Angela Phelps of Human Events, that “if any American lived a single day under the former dictator of Iraq, they too would have been screaming for regime change in Iraq.”
Duh! No one disagrees with that. But this country has long ago — read nearly 100 years — given up on the Wilsonian notion that America can or should remake the world politically in her own image. When the Right argues such blatantly liberal notions as human rights as the basis for new war policies, something really weird is going on. And almost no one seems to notice or care how backwards this all is.
[A] unilateral US war with Iraq would actually be a travesty of Wilsonian principles. While Wilson was certainly prepared to use US armed force in pursuit of his aims, the core of his philosophy was a commitment to the development of international institutions and international law. This is something for which the US nationalists who now misuse his name have open contempt.
Some have called the Bush Administration’s philosophy “democratic imperialism,” with a small “d” and an emphasis on the second word. That’s the truth. But neo-conservatives can’t handle the fact that they have been spouting flamingly liberal doctrine in support of their imperialistic aims, so they just made up the imminent threat of WMDs. That’s the truth.
In a major speech today, Sen. Ted Kennedy said the Iraq war was a ”political product” marketed by the Bush administration to win elections. ”The war has made America more hated in the world,” Kennedy said. ”And it has made our people more vulnerable to attacks both here and overseas.”
I don’t think any reasonable person would argue with this. It is also the case, however, that Saddam was a tyrant and deserved to be deposed. But as I have commented previously, without a clear and present danger — the immediate threat posed by WMDs and bio-terror weapons that Pres. Bush assured America and the world Saddam possessed and was ready to use — then the only reason to go to war was to protect the human rights of Iraqis. I personally don’t think the war can be justified on that basis alone and am convinced that the electorate would opposed the war if it were presented in that correct fashion.
This article by William Rivers Pitt should give pause to any of us who are ready to believe that caputuring Saddam Hussein is going to end Iraqi resistance to the American occupation.
“We are not fighting for Saddam,” said an Iraqi named Kashid Ahmad Saleh in a New York Times report from a week ago. . . . “The religious principle is that we cannot accept to live with infidels. We cannot allow strangers to rule over us.”
Welcome to the new Iraq. The theme that the 455 Americans killed there, and the thousands of others who have been wounded, fell at the hands of pro-Hussein loyalists is now gone. The Bush administration celebrations over this capture will appear quite silly and premature when the dying continues. Whatever Hussein bitter-enders there are will be joined by Iraqi nationalists who will now see no good reason for American forces to remain. After all, the new rhetoric highlighted the removal of Hussein as the reason for this invasion, and that task has been completed. Yet American forces are not leaving, and will not leave. The killing of our troops will continue because of people like Kashid Ahmad Saleh. All Hussein’s capture did for Saleh was remove from the table the idea that he was fighting for the dictator. He is free now, and the war will begin in earnest.
This suggests, as one national Republican politician told me last week, that what we are observing in Iraq may be the start of something new, the rise of a new global movement like Naziism or Communism. If that’s right, one must seriously wonder whether the public humiliation of Saddam is helpful or just adds more fuel to the fire.
Bill Safire wites today, in an op-ed piece teasingly titled From the “Spider Hole,” that we’re not done with Saddam Hussein yet.
I think Saddam is still Saddam — a meretricious, malevolent megalomaniac. He knows he is going to die, either by death sentence or in jail at the hands of a rape victim’s family. Why did he not use his pistol to shoot it out with his captors or to kill himself? Because he is looking forward to the mother of all genocide trials, rivaling Nuremberg’s and topping those of Eichmann and Milosevic. There, in the global spotlight, he can pose as the great Arab hero saving Islam from the Bushes and the Jews.
I think we’ve seen the end of Saddam. One trial, string him up and close the books on this sorry episode in international human relations. At least I hope we’re done with him. And that Saddam’s not as smart as Safire.
Yes, even my friends at Right Thinking From the Left Coast say (albeit holding their toungues) that Howard Dean has “class” — evidenced by his statement yesterday that capturing Saddam was a “great day for the Administration.” [Right-Thinking Comments - Klassy Kerry]. Oh yes, John Kerry is “just a vile, disgusting human being.”