Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War Crime

The Iraq War has been deeply unpopular with most Americans for most of its nearly nine years, so it was heartening to hear that President Obama intends to pull out all our combat troops by year’s end. Nevertheless, after the bloodshed, destruction and unbelievable cost—well over a trillion dollars—we have almost nothing to show for our efforts beyond 4,500 dead U.S troops, many more Iraqi dead, the mysterious disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and veterans suffering the alphabetical effects of Improvised Explosive Devices and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It turns out that those who opposed the war from its beginning were right: It’s come to an ignoble end. Obama has done his best to spin this, to make it look as though it was his call, but really, he had no choice. This was his Vietnam. We’ve been kicked out. All that’s missing are Iraq embassy workers on the rooftop clinging to a helicopter.

Those who have paid attention to the high-level discussions between Iraq and the U.S. in the last year will recall that as recently as last month, the official U.S. position was that we would be leaving tens of thousands of troops in Iraq to train Iraqi troops and police forces and provide security for diplomatic missions.

But that has not been the position of the Iraqis, who long ago tired of the killing and destruction visited on their cities, businesses, homes and families by U.S. forces, and the atrocities committed by the mercenaries we hired through discredited firms such as Blackwater (now Xe).

The names of the villains that got us into this debacle should go down in history—George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice and the rest of the coterie of war hawks who nested in the White House during the Bush administration.

Now they should be tried as war criminals.

They cooked the intelligence, and did real and lasting harm to the reputation of the U.S. by having people tortured. And they had people tortured. We ought to be ashamed.

And yet, what have we learned from this so far, or from the ongoing war in Afghanistan?

According to Obama’s new Pentagon chief, former CIA Director Leon Panetta, we’ve learned that killing people with drones and black ops by Special Forces teams is the future of American warfare.

This has to make you wonder about Panetta’s threats that military budget cuts will doom our armed forces. Overall military spending in the U.S. has doubled in the last decade to $700 billion annually. That figure doesn’t include the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Panetta says that cutting that military spending by as little as 7 percent a year over the next ten years—by $50 billion—will cripple our ability to protect the nation.

And whom does Panetta think we should worry about now?

China.

That nation is spending $95 billion a year on its military now–less than a tenth of what we spend when you add in our wars. Panetta says we have to keep spending hundreds of billions of dollars on our military to prepare for the coming Asian threat and “strengthen our presence in the Pacific.”

This is bizarre. We borrow 40 cents of every federal dollar we spend, including on the military, and China is our biggest creditor. So we will presumably borrow even more money from China to further build up our military so it can protect us from…China? Do you remember the scene from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, when the inmates impersonate the doctors?

Meanwhile, we sell coal, wood and other North American raw materials to China and their huge cargo ships return bearing cheap consumer goods. Our factories are dying while China goes full tilt. We seem to think we’re competing with them by eagerly helping them compete with us.

Meanwhile, our military and diplomatic leaders contend we should keep doing just what we’ve been doing, strutting and blustering.

But there is a good alternative, in which we actually learn something from the Iraq War: that we can no longer invade and occupy other nations. That option would be off the table. We’d cap our armed forces at a million members, stop commissioning new aircraft carriers and reduce staffing at our 800-plus foreign bases. We’d get out of Afghanistan tomorrow. We’d learn peace. And none of that can happen until the Obama administration has the courage to admit that the Iraq War failed.

George Ochenski rattles the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Missoula Independent, where this column originally ran. He lives in Helena, Montana. He can be reached at: opinion@missoulanews.com.

Exclusively in the New Print Issue of CounterPunch

THE SLOW DEATH OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH – Nancy Scheper-Hughes on Clerical Sex Abuse and the Vatican. PLUS Fred Gardner on Obama’s Policy on Marijuana and the Reform Leaders’ Misleading Spin.  SUBSCRIBE NOW

Order your subscription today and get
CounterPunch by email for only $35 per year.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

May 24, 2018
Gary Leupp
Art of the Dealbreaker: Trump’s Cancellation of the Summit with Kim
Jeff Warner – Victor Rothman
Why the Emerging Apartheid State in Israel-Palestine is Not Sustainable
Kenn Orphan
Life, the Sea and Big Oil
James Luchte
Europe Stares Into the Abyss, Confronting the American Occupant in the Room
Richard Hardigan
Palestinians’ Great March of Return: What You Need to Know
Howard Lisnoff
So Far: Fascism Lite
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Norman Finkelstein on Bernie Sanders, Gaza, and the Mainstream Treatment
Daniel Warner
J’accuse All Baby Boomers
Alfred W. McCoy
Beyond Golden Shower Diplomacy
Jonah Raskin
Rachel Kushner, Foe of Prisons, and Her New Novel, “The Mars Room”
George Wuerthner
Myths About Wildfires, Logging and Forests
Binoy Kampmark
Tom Wolfe the Parajournalist
Dean Baker
The Marx Ratio: Not Clear Karl Would be Happy
May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail