After the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein said that if he were ever to be overthrown Iraqis would end up murdering each other.
Indeed, that psychopathic killer was right.
The mess that is Iraq today is beyond tragic for Iraqis most of all, but also for the United States. Five thousand American soldiers are dead and more than 250,000 Americans have been injured (including those who suffer PTSD) in that decade-plus-long war. God knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead and injured. This past week with ISIS taking over much of Iraq, one news item projected that now more than a million Iraqis have become refugees in that ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.
If loss of life, limb and home were not enough, the war cost the United States $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest (per Reuters). Lest we forget the financial impact of two wars after 9/11 and Bush’s massive tax cut that squandered the Clinton budget surplus, neither of the two wars was paid for by the Bush Administration, setting the stage, at least in part, for the “Great Recession.”
What is maddening on top of all this is that in recent days Americans have been subject to a ridiculous and outrageous blame-game initiated against the Obama Administration policies and President Obama himself mostly by Republicans, the very people who led the way in getting America into that unjustified and immoral Iraqi war in the first place and who were the greatest cheer-leaders when Bush got his massive tax cut bill passed in Congress.
This week, I have heard generals urge the US not to do anything we live to regret in Iraq. They said that even an air war against ISIS insurgents now threatening Baghdad will be ineffective unless accompanied by massive ground troops. President Obama, reflecting the views of the majority of Americans, does not intend to send ground troops back into Iraq – thank heavens!
The Republican blamers are counting on Americans to have no memory at all. Lest we forget, it was Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Wolfowitz, Powell, Rice, and others (Republicans and Democrats) who, in justifying going to war against Saddam, either cooked, twisted, spun, fabricated, or went along with the fiction that Saddam had WMD that could be used against the United States and our allies.
When no WMD were found, Bush/Cheney and company changed the story. Now the war was about ridding Iraq of a brutal dictator and bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people.
Lest we forget, Saddam Hussein’s fall created a vacuum for Iran which suddenly was regionally unchecked to be able to pursue its hegemonic designs to develop nuclear weapons.
Lest we forget as well, it was Bush in 2008 who signed an order to withdraw ALL American troops from Iraq no later than by 2011. President Obama fulfilled this order, but it is as if Bush’s order never existed in the minds of these Republican blamers. They say it is all Obama’s fault!
Lest we forget as well that it was Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who said he did not want any American residual forces to remain in Iraq, but one Republican Senator this past week said this was a “lie!” These people default to fiction when history, truth and facts don't suit their political opportunism and deep-seated animus.
What boggles the mind is that these people seem not to have learned anything from our unjustified, ill-advised, short-sighted, deadly, maiming, destructive, and costly Iraq war. They were wrong about virtually everything, but they are still talking!
Those who think they have answers about what America should do next in Iraq and Syria are fooling themselves. As I listen to experts talk about the complexities inherent in this mess, the only thing that is absolutely clear to me is that there is no good choice for the US at all. Every choice is bad; and there are no good guys to support either, which is why the President has been hesitant to act in Syria and now Iraq.
My heart breaks for all the innocent Iraqis and Syrians who are the real victims of sectarian strife and hate.
My heart also goes out to all American veterans of this war who gave up so much in Iraq and now must witness it all revert to what Saddam Hussein predicted would happen after his fall.
My compassion extends to those families of our veterans killed in action and those who survived but have suffered greatly the effects of their injuries.
Finally, my prayers go to the President and those charged with the responsibility of figuring out how not to make a very bad situation even worse.