Fellow columnist Molly Ivins has launched a crusade of sorts to end what she calls "this evil war."
I'm afraid that columnists, other than having the ability to occasionally embarrass a politician who still has a conscience, are pretty much without influence in the corridors of Washington. There, the lobbyist and his money get the attention.
Nevertheless, it won't hurt to enlist in Miss Molly's crusade. It is definitely an evil war. Let's go over some of the reasons it deserves that adjective.
One, it is a war of aggression. Iraq had not attacked us, had not threatened to attack us and lacked the capability to attack us. Iraq had no connection with al-Qaeda. Saddam Hussein's Baathist government was a secular government. Al-Qaeda is a religious — or at least a pseudo-religious — organization. Osama bin Laden despised Saddam Hussein, who in turn despised him. Finally, Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack on the World Trade Center. There was, morally, no difference between our invasion of Iraq and Hitler's invasion of Poland.
Two, it was a war sold to the American public on false pretenses. Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. In case you have a short memory, that was the justification for the war right up to the day of the invasion. The Bush administration would have you believe that everybody thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. That is a lie. The U.N. inspectors didn't think he did. Scott Ritter, a former arms inspector, didn't think he did. For what it's worth, I didn't think he did, and several of our European allies had extreme doubts on the matter. Saddam Hussein had complied or was in the process of complying with all U.N. resolutions.
But weapons of mass destruction weren't the only deception practiced on the American people. Defense officials said U.S. troops would be greeted with sweets and flowers (they were greeted with bullets instead). Defense officials said the war would pay for itself with Iraqi oil revenues (the cost is now approaching half a trillion of our dollars). Civilian defense officials, scoffing at professional advice, said the war could be fought with very few troops. Soldiers were told that it would be a short war. Remember the phrase "The way home leads through Baghdad''?
Three, it was a bungled war. There were enough troops to defeat Saddam's dilapidated and technologically inferior army, but not enough to provide security for the country. The orgy of looting, while American troops stood by and watched, was the first step toward a disastrous occupation.
The occupation itself has been a tragic farce. Political cronies and even the sons and daughters of rich donors staffed the occupational government. Lucrative contracts were handed out without bidding. Corruption is rampant. All the Baathists who could run the government were fired. Some 400,000 soldiers were fired and found themselves with no income and lost pensions. One CIA man supposedly said, "Now you've (expletive) 400,000 men, and they have guns."
More than 3,000 Americans have died since George Bush proclaimed "mission accomplished" during that photo stunt aboard an aircraft carrier. The Iraqi people are clearly worse off now than they were under Saddam Hussein, who, after all, only killed his political enemies, and only when they rebelled. Now, no Iraqi feels safe.
George Bush launched that evil war ignorant of Iraq, ignorant of the Middle East and ignorant of military strategy. He has no exit strategy. He can't even define what we would consider a victory. If Bush is sane, then he's dullest blade in the Bush family kitchen.
Those are harsh words, but not nearly as harsh as the consequences of his evil war for America and the American people.
January 16, 2007
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.
© 2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.