Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bring Our Soldiers Home

by ROBIN COOK

This was meant to be a quick, easy war. Shortly before I resigned a Cabinet colleague told me not to worry about the political fall-out.

The war would be finished long before polling day for the May local elections.

I just hope those who expected a quick victory are proved right. I have already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war. I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed.

It is OK for Bush to say the war will go on for as long as it takes. He is sitting pretty in the comfort of Camp David protected by scores of security men to keep him safe.

It is easy to show you are resolute when you are not one of the poor guys stuck in a sandstorm peering around for snipers.

This week British forces have shown bravery under attack and determination in atrocious weather conditions. They are too disciplined to say it, but they must have asked each other how British forces ended up exposed by the mistakes of US politicians.

We were told the Iraqi army would be so joyful to be attacked that it would not fight. A close colleague of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld predicted the march to Baghdad would be “a cakewalk”.

We were told Saddam’s troops would surrender. A few days before the war Vice-President Dick Cheney predicted that the Republican Guard would lay down their weapons.

We were told that the local population would welcome their invaders as liberators. Paul Wolfowitz, No.2 at the Pentagon, promised that our tanks would be greeted “with an explosion of joy and relief”.

Personally I would like to volunteer Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz to be “embedded” alongside the journalists with the forward units.

That would give them a chance to hear what the troops fighting for every bridge over the Euphrates think about their promises.

The top US General, William Wallace, has let the cat out of the bag. “The enemy we are fighting is different from the one we’d war-gamed”.

War is not some kind of harmless arcade game. Nobody should start a war on the assumption that the enemy’s army will co-operate. But that is exactly what President Bush has done. And now his Marines have reached the outskirts of Baghdad he does not seem to know what to do next.

It was not meant to be like this. By the time we got to Baghdad Saddam was supposed to have crumpled. A few days before I resigned I was assured that Saddam would be overthrown by his associates to save their own skins. But they would only do it “at five minutes past midnight”. It is now long past that time and Saddam is still there. To compensate yesterday we blew up a statue of Saddam in Basra. A statue! It is not the statue that terrifies local people but the man himself and they know Saddam is still in control of Baghdad.

Having marched us up this cul-de-sac, Donald Rumsfeld has now come up with a new tactic. Instead of going into Baghdad we should sit down outside it until Saddam surrenders. There is no more brutal form of warfare than a siege. People go hungry. The water and power to provide the sinews of a city snap. Children die.

You can catch a glimpse of what would happen in Baghdad under siege by looking at Basra. Its residents have endured several days of summer heat without water.

In desperation they have been drinking water from the river into which the sewage empties. Those conditions are ripe for cholera.

Last week President Bush promised that “Iraqis will see the great compassion of the US”. They certainly do not see it now. They don’t see it in Baghdad. What they see are women and children killed when missiles fall on market places. They don’t see it in Basra. What they see is the suffering of their families with no water, precious little food, and no power to cook. There will be a long-term legacy of hatred for the West if the Iraqi people continue to suffer from the effects of the war we started.

Washington got it wrong over the ease with which the war could be won. Washington could be just as wrong about the difficulty of running Iraq when the fighting stops. Already there are real differences between Britain and America over how to run post-war Iraq.

The dispute over the management of the port of Umm Qasr is a good example. British officers sensibly took the view that the best and the most popular solution would be to find local Iraqis who knew how to do it. Instead the US have appointed an American company to take over the Iraqi asset. And guess what? Stevedore Services of America who got the contract have a chairman known for his donations to the Republican Party.

The argument between Blair and Bush over whether the UN will be in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq is about more than international legitimacy. It is about whether the Iraqi people can have confidence that their country is being run for the benefit of themselves or for the benefit of the US.

Yesterday there was a sad and moving ceremony as the bodies of our brave soldiers were brought back to Britain.

The Ministry of Defence announced that they were to be buried in Britain out of consideration for their families. We must do all we can to ease the grief of those who have lost a husband or a son, cut down in their prime.

Yet I can’t help asking myself if there was not a better way to show consideration for their families.

A better way could have been not to start a war which was never necessary and is turning out to be badly planned.

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Richard W. Behan
Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]