FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Will We Ever Learn?

I believe in hope and the proposition that we can build a better world through our personal efforts. But I also believe that we must make a cold, hard appraisal of where we stand if we are to achieve change for the better. We cannot avoid the reality that we enter the New Year deeply bogged down in the quagmire of war.

As with all wars, the war in Iraq is neither simple nor predictable. We are learning once again that raw military power is not sufficient to prevail, even against an opponent vastly inferior in military strength. For those of us who lived through the war in Vietnam, it is both sad and distressing that that war was not sufficient to teach this lesson to the present leadership of the United States. As with Vietnam, there is a growing unease among the people of the United States about this “war of choice” in Iraq. More than 1,300 Americans have died there and many more have been injured for life. The number of Iraqi casualties is far higher, perhaps higher than 100,000. And there is no end in sight.

The Vietnam War ended when the people of the United States had enough and withdrew their support for the war. Gradually that is happening now, but the people of the United States want to believe their leaders when they say that the war is progressing. We are living in the bubble of a myth. The media has a critical responsibility for reporting on the war as it is so that the American people can make an informed choice about continuing to send their sons and daughters to die in the cities and on the roadways of Iraq.

We should not forget that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that this is what the United Nations inspectors were telling us prior to the war being initiated in March 2003. If we want to understand why this war has gone so terribly wrong, we should not forget our failure to follow the law and procedures of the United Nations. Nor should we forget our tactics of “shock and awe,” nor the resulting dead and injured children of Iraq. I remember Ali Ishmael Abbas, the 12-year-old boy who lost his parents and other members of his family as well as his arms in a US bombing attack. Ali was not “collateral damage.” He is the Iraqi face of this war.

But what is the American face of this war? Is it Donald Rumsfeld, smug and arrogant, telling American soldiers that their protective armor is insufficient because “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time”? It was Rumsfeld, along with George Bush, who chose the date and time of the war. The tragic miscalculation of consequences has not affected Bush’s confidence in Rumsfeld to continue as Secretary of Defense.

In war, it is generally not the leaders who are killed, nor their children. Rumsfeld and Bush remain in power, while Ali Ishmael Abbas will go through his life without his arms. More than 1,300 American parents will go through their lives without sons or daughters who have died for reasons unfathomable and subject to change. And millions of Iraqis have been personally affected by this war, with almost every family having lost someone or knowing someone who has.

The full consequences of this war are unknowable, but the very least we might have learned is that war should never be a simple choice of power, nor should it ever be a first choice. There is no goal more important for Americans in the New Year than ending this war and bringing home our troops. It will not end well for the United States, but the sooner we withdraw from Iraq the sooner the Iraqis can seek the normalization of their country and we can normalize ours.

We don’t have the right legally or morally to try to impose democracy abroad by force of arms, but we do have the obligation to attempt to maintain our democracy at home. Should we fail to extricate ourselves from the quagmire in Iraq, we will continue to provoke international terrorism, increasing the risk to the future of our own democracy and well-being.

DAVID KRIEGER is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and co-author of Nuclear Weapons and the World Court.

 

More articles by:

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). 

January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail