The invasion of Iraq was certainly not without warning. President George Bush made his intentions clear even as United Nations weapon’s inspectors sought in vain for the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons that Mr. Bush claimed were concealed in that country.
Four catastrophic years later, no such weapons have been found. Nor has there been found any evidence of an active program to create or obtain them.
Four years later, over 3,000 Americans are dead as a result of Mr. Bush’s imperial designs on Iraq. Estimates of Iraqi deaths range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. At the start of the war over half the population of Iraq was under the age of 15. Yet Mr. Bush’s ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign targeted population centers where these children lived in large numbers.
Four years of bombing and killing Iraqi families have caused over one million of that nation’s citizens to flee to other countries, to face an uncertain future.
Four years of American war on Iraq have cost that nation’s citizens the basic services electricity, running water, etc. they previously took for granted. Now they may have access to these services for only a few hours a day, if at all.
Four years of war have cost America billions of dollars, monies that could otherwise have been used for such immediate needs as the rebuilding of New Orleans, or the longer term needs of American citizens such as health care.
Four years of disdain for the opinions of the world community have resulted in international fear and hatred of the United States, with Mr. Bush consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous leaders on the planet.
Four years of Republican rubber-stamping of Mr. Bush’s policies have trampled cherished Constitutional rights under the guise of fighting ‘terror,’ when Mr. Bush himself has waged unparalleled terror on the citizens of Iraq.
On March 19, the anniversary of America’s shocking and infamous invasion of Iraq, Mr. Bush said this: “At this point in the war, our most important mission is helping the Iraqis secure their capital. Until Baghdad’s citizens feel secure in their own homes and neighborhoods, it will be difficult for Iraqis to make further progress toward political reconciliation or economic rebuilding, steps necessary for Iraq to build a democratic society.” But it must be remembered that prior to the U.S. invasion, residents of Baghdad did feel relatively secure in their own homes and neighborhoods; the city was not a killing field prior to the U.S. invasion. American soldiers have now been dispatched there in greater numbers in order to quell the violence they have caused.
Those still clinging to Mr. Bush’s faltering bandwagon will point to the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein as a legitimate reason for invading Iraq. There is no doubt that Mr. Hussein was a cruel, murderous tyrant. He was convicted of killing 149 of his own citizens, and estimates are that he may have killed up to 20,000. One recoils at the thought of such atrocities.
Since America and some limited number of its allies invaded Iraq either by choice, bribery or intimidation – countless thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed. The number of deaths for which Mr. Hussein may have been responsible pales compared to the number for which Mr. Bush is responsible. Does America recoil at the thought of this atrocity? Or is the killing of Iraqis somehow less horrifying when it is done by American soldiers in the name of America’s skewed concept of ‘freedom?’
One of the many cruel and misguided philosophies of the Vietnam War that guided American leadership at that time was that of Viet Cong ‘attrition.’ The U.S. proclaimed progress as long as it appeared that they were killing more of the ‘enemy’ than the Viet Cong could recruit, thus resulting in a net loss of ‘enemy’ soldiers. That the number of Viet Cong killed on any given day was at best, estimated, and at worst, fabricated, did not stop various civilian and military leaders from proudly displaying the numbers. Years earlier, when the French were still in Vietnam trying to hold onto that country as a colony, Ho Chi Minh said the following: “You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours, but even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.” The will of an oppressed people to throw off an invading or occupying force cannot be overestimated.
Whether or not the U.S. is playing the same numbers game it played a generation ago is not known. But as it was in Vietnam then, it will be difficult for the U.S. to annihilate more of the ‘enemy’ in Iraq than can be ‘recruited,’ since with each new killing of an Iraqi citizen the rage against the U.S. increases. Each citizen of Iraq man, woman and child is a potential ‘insurgent,’ America’s euphemism for people fighting a foreign occupier/oppressor.
If a murderous dictator is sufficient reason for the U.S. to invade a nation to achieve ‘regime change’ then North Korea is certainly at risk. In Haengyong it is reported that at the infamous Camp 22, thousands of men, women and children die every year. North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, was named by Mr. Bush as part of the ‘Axis of Evil.’ Thus far, only Iraq has felt the wrath of Mr. Bush, but his saber-rattling is increasingly directed towards that country’s neighbor, Iran. Why, one wonders, hasn’t North Korea been targeted?
One must not lose sight of the fact that Iraq is one of the most oil-rich countries on the planet, and American business runs on oil. Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and several others in this administration have long and extremely lucrative associations with oil companies. North Korea does not possess this natural resource in any significant quantity, and therefore its atrocities can apparently be overlooked.
If success in Iraq means finally killing and intimidating enough of that nation’s citizens so that those surviving live in constant fear of death at the hands of American soldiers, than Mr. Bush’s surge may prove successful in the short term. Perhaps an overwhelming, long-term American presence in this, its newest colony, will be sufficient to maintain an uneasy peace. The concepts of justice, self-determination, national pride, etc., which America loftily proclaims as inherent rights, must not then be considered for the people of Iraq. The reputation of the U.S., the suffering and neglect of its own citizens as much-needed funds are siphoned into America’s newest oil barrel, must be pushed aside as the country claims yet another victory/victim.
It is unlikely that peace will be achieved in Iraq until such time as the Iraqis are able to expel the foreign invaders from their country. At that point they will experience the inevitable turmoil and chaos resulting from the invasion and overthrow of their government. Gradually, out of the ashes America has made of Iraq, the Iraqis themselves will cobble together some kind of peaceful society. It will not be easy, and it will not be without the bloodshed that is part of any civil war. However, continued American presence there will only delay this outcome as it leaves more death and destruction in its wake. Although this bloodbath can be prevented, there is little reason to hope that it will be.
ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.‘