Wednesday, March 19, 2008

five years later

Wow, five years in Iraq already. How time flies; it only seems like a half-decade to me. Anyway, how's that situation going? Let's assess how some of the reasons for the war and the assumptions about the war by the de facto Bush Administration and their neocon fellow travellers have turned out, shall we?

Found Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? Um, well, actually - there were none. Terribly sorry about that!

Established Iraq as a democratic, stable, pro-Israel country? Um, well, that depends on how you define democratic or pro-Israel. As for stable - hey only about half as many people are being killed every day as a year ago! Woohoo! Of course, that is still thousands a month... And the relations between the ethnic and religious groups of Iraq are purely poisonous.

Reconstruction of Iraq proceeding quickly, and paying for itself? Err, ummm, maybe not. The citizens of Iraq have fewer hours of electricity every day than they did 5 years ago. The water is less safe to drink, as American soldiers are learning. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of educated Iraqis have fled the country. The roads are bad - although there are some nifty new walls separating Baghdad into ethnic ghettos. As for paying for itself... or costing a couple of billion of dollars tops as former AID honcho Andrew Natsios promised... well that didn't happen either. We've spent billions on assistance which has been poorly managed and often, blown up. And we're burning something like $10 billion EACH MONTH to maintain our occupation and fight insurgents.

American troops home for Christmas? Err, we actually have more American troops (not to mention contractors and mercenaries) in Iraq now than we did when defeating the Iraqi Army and Republican Guards. Dammit, that Eric Shinseki just might have been right after all. Oh, and all of the "Coalition of the Willing" are pretty much gone or are leaving, except for a few Tongans and other assorted odds and ends. Even the BRITISH are leaving.

Americans greeted as liberators and beloved by the Iraqi people? Well not quite. Many Iraqis were very happy to see Saddam gone. But they don't want to be occupied. And we established an occupation that often unintentionally alienates Iraqis by treating everybody like a criminal or a terrorist - even BEFORE the insurgency began. And we've killed anywhere from 80,000 to several hundred thousand Iraqis. And we've tortured not a few of them at Abu Ghraib. Now it is safe to say, many Iraqis are rather unhappy with the United States, and are not entirely coooperative.

Not quite what was promised by Bush, Cheney, Perle, Kristol, Kagan and the other chickenhawks. A fiasco of the highest degree that has killed nearly 4000 American troops, who knows how many American and foreign contractors, and lots of Iraqis. A fiasco that has the US Army to the breaking point, and many of its most able officers leaving rather than be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan for a third or fourth time. A fiasco that has for the first time ever linked the word "torture" with "America." A fiasco based on false or (if you are generous) mistaken grounds that has destabilized a key country in the Middle East, strengthened Iran, and weakened our geopolitical position around the globe. A fiasco that has made us fundamentally less safe than we were before invading Iraq.

I argued with many people 5 years ago against launching this war. I said I hoped it would go well and Iraq would quickly become stable, but I said I feared that after the easy defeat of Iraq's army (which I was sure would happen - and it did, our military can't be beat in conventional battle) we would be ill-prepared to handle the complexities of occupation. I wish I had been wrong. But I wasn't.



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