|Iraq war is finally over sort of
by Dale McFeatters; Scripps Howard News Service;
December 22, 2011; page 22, Aerotech News and Review.
In the months
leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush
administration assured Americans with absolute certitude that:
• Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had vast hidden stocks of chemical and
biological weapons of mass destruction;
• He had a secret ongoing program to build or acquire nuclear weapons;
• Saddam was in league with al Qaeda;
• The Iraqi people would welcome us as liberators;
• Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the war;
• On May 1, 2003, it was “Mission Accomplished.”
None of that turned out to be true. But leading up to
the invasion, the Bush administration and its bellicose (quarrelsome;
warlike) neo-con allies dismissed domestic opponents of the war as, at best,
soft on terrorism and, at worst, unpatriotic. The swaggering Bush White
House dismissed the failure of international arms inspectors to find any
sign of weapons of mass destruction with, in essence, “What can you expect
of wussy foreigners?”
The actual invasion went faster and better than anyone
expected, and U.S. troops were in Baghdad and pulling down Saddam’s statue
seemingly in no time flat.
And then it all started to fall apart- through an
almost complete lack of post-invasion planning, a series of bad decisions
and unfortunate incidents like Abu Ghraib and, for the most part, a stunning
ignorance about the country we had invaded.
The Iraqi army, one of the nation’s few stable
institutions, was disbanded. Baath party members, who had to join as a
condition of their jobs, were expelled from the government. Looters rampaged
unchecked through Iraq’s cities, wrecking the country’s already fragile
infrastructure. And religious and ethnic sects embarked on a bloody settling
of old scores.
The U.S. military, with a “surge” of additional troops,
mile after mile of blast walls and razor wire and aggressive patrolling,
brought the violence down to a level that, compared with what had gone
before, was tolerable.
In the meantime, the Bush administration changed its
goals in Iraq and our rationale for being there (emphasis added). Forget
the weapons of mass destruction. Now our aim was to establish a free,
democratic prosperous Iraq, capable of defending itself within secure
borders and becoming a partner in the war on terror.
The jury is still very much out on whether those goals
are being realized, but the bottom line is that after 1.5 million Americans
served in Iraq
-and 4,500 of them died there- and the expenditure of a trillion dollars,
the war there is over and, except for a token presence, U.S. troops are out.
President Barack Obama has been tireless about
reminding audiences that the war is over and the troops are on their way
home, and he is being roundly criticized for it by conservative Republicans,
even though the Dec. 31 exit deadline was negotiated by Bush.
The political credit, if any, will be fleeting.
Americans look forward, not back, and even now are rapidly losing interest
in our other war, in Afghanistan.
Our presence in Iraq helped set in motion unsettling geopolitical changes
in a band from Pakistan to Tunisia, the ultimate outcome of which is
impossible to foresee. But for better or worse, the United States is a
major Mideast power, if only from afar, and it’s likely that our
entanglement with Iraq is not over, even if the war is.
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