I haven’t heard from you for a while. Three years ago you called me a “traitor”, just before the invasion of Iraq. You also wrote, “Your voice against our elected government is a voice against its people, a voice against this nation.”
I guess I must have set you off with my skepticism about an Iraqi nuclear weapons program and other nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, not to mention the highly dubious claims being made that Iraq was involved with 9/11 or Al Qaeda.
I am sure that you had every intention to contact me and apologize since you were so utterly wrong about, well, everything. But I suppose you were busy.
As the third anniversary of the war approaches, let’s review the fine mess that you’ve gotten us into.
The war in Iraq has become a horrendous drain of American lives and treasure. With no end in sight, we have already lost over 2300 U.S. soldiers and will spend more than $315 billion through 2006. At least 18,000 American soldiers have suffered devastating wounds, and another 50,000 show signs of acute psychological distress.
Iraqi losses have been staggering. Over the last three years, at least 100,000 have died–most killed by U.S. forces. It is estimated that U.S. troops kill three Iraqi civilians for each insurgent dispatched. As bad as Saddam’s regime was, under Bush & Company Iraq has gone from being the one of the most developed and educated countries in the region to a failed state.
The insurgency rages unabated, and civil war looms; coalition forces control only the ground upon which they stand. Amnesty International reports that U.S. troops have detained thousands of Iraqis; many are innocent and many have been abused–all of which further inflames the insurgency.
Wealthy Americans, meanwhile, have been asked to sacrifice precisely nothing. The Bush administration has cut their taxes and put the entire cost of the war on the national tab. Our children and grandchildren will pay the bill. Meanwhile, Haliburton continues to rake it in–$16 billion in Iraq war contracts so far.
From the Geneva Conventions to the UN Charter to the Treaty on Torture, the Bush regime has left the fabric of international law in tatters. Our country has become an international pariah.
And the troops have had it. A large majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq now say it is time to leave: 72% “think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately.” (Le Moyne College/Zogby International, 2/28/06)
Many of us saw it all coming. But we were censured and ridiculed, our competence and integrity questioned, and in some cases our careers were damaged.
But I should not complain. When you denounced me, I joined a distinguished group that included generals Tony Zinni and Bill Odom, hard working UN weapons inspectors, and regrettably, too few brave journalists and academics. Let’s salute all who refused to be intimidated.
During another war at another time, Theodore Roosevelt put it well, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president . . . is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
But you, on the contrary, readily gave in to the orchestrated campaign of mass hysteria that was used to manipulate the American public into supporting an unnecessary and illegal war. You choose to give your support to an administration that “went to war without requesting–and evidently without being influenced by–any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq,” according to Paul Pillar, recently retired from the CIA.
In blindly following incompetent leaders, you abetted taking our country into what Gen. Odom calls “the greatest strategic disaster in US history”. By choosing to be an unthinking disciple you abandoned your responsibilities as a citizen in a democracy.
To the guy who called me a traitor: The one who betrayed our country was you; and the hands stained with the blood of the innocent are yours.
ARNOLD OLIVER is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. He can be reached at email@example.com