Monday, March 19, 2007

What was the Mission, Again? And What was Accomplished?

As we look back on four years of war—four more years than we should ever have to commemorate—this pair of questions is meant as more than just a rhetorical joke at the Commander in Chief’s expense.

Why did we start this war? No, not to look for WMD’s—the government, and anyone else paying attention, knew there were none. No, not to attack al Qaeda—there was never a scintilla of even circumstantial evidence to link Saddam Hussein with the OBL gang (not to mention that such a link was completely counter intuitive). No, not to spread democracy—the administration scrapped the State Department plans for post-invasion nation building at the start of the war, and has since flailed chaotically (if not quixotically) in a variety of half-assed attempts to prop up a string of less than strong strongmen.

Was it to secure a forward base in the region to replace Saudi Arabia? Was it to gain greater control of the region’s oil? Was it to provide new markets for big money friends of Bush and Cheney? Was it to distract the country from the poor performance of the Bush administration in other matters, both foreign and domestic, or to galvanize political support and help build a permanent Republican majority? Was it simply to avenge a perceived insult to the Bush family or resolve some oedipal conflict?

I cannot write off any of those possibilities as easily as I did the “official” reasons.

And what has been accomplished?

Over 3,200 American’s have been killed, tens of thousands have been wounded, countless others have suffered life-changing emotional trauma. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead
or maimed as a result of this “liberation.” US troops are attacked, on average, 1,000 times every week—a number that seems to steadily increase each year.

Half of Iraqis think they are worse off now than they were before the invasion. Over 80% expect to die or have a family member die in the violence. A majority of Iraqis say attacks on foreign forces are justified.

And what of the money? What could have been done, here and all over the world, with the $1 Billion the government spends each week for this war? And what of the future? How long will it take to rebuild America’s image around the world? What could we have done with the money we must spend down the line to clean up the mess made by this war abroad—and what must be done, and how much must be spent, domestically, to clean up the mess that will befall our society when so many wounded and damaged servicemen and women return to civilian life (or whatever rude approximation of such our country can offer them)?

The size of the disaster that this folly has wrought redefines “disaster.”

I guess that’s some kind of accomplishment.


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