We would do better if, instead of being sheep and complacently accepting the words of politicians as edicts from God, we were like children who always ask that innocent question, "Why?"
Over and over we hear the statement "The United States cannot afford to fail in Iraq." Even John Kerry says that.
Well, why? What bad things will happen to the American people if we told the Iraqis: "We knocked off your dictator. Here's a check for what's left of the $18 billion to cover the damage we did. Goodbye and good luck"?
And in the interest of the debate we never had when President George Bush took us to war under false pretenses (we must disarm Saddam, remember?), what will happen if we stay? It costs us nearly $5 billion a month, you know. And, more importantly, American lives, day in and day out, are lost. Perhaps both Kerry and Bush should answer the younger Kerry's famous question: "How do you order a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Going to war was a mistake. The answer to that other political question, "Aren't we better off with Saddam in prison?" is no. The Iraqi people are — or at least will be if they can ever get us off their backs. But the American people are worse off. We've lost blood and treasure and credibility. There is more terrorism, not less, directed at us and our allies. The Middle East is in turmoil. North Korea and probably Iran are pursuing nuclear weapons. The budget is out of whack, and our civil liberties are threatened.
All this was to disarm a man who had already disarmed and was no threat to us. Incidentally, I haven't heard anyone apologize to the Iraqis for calling them liars every time they said — truthfully, it turns out — that they didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.
It's true that if we withdraw there might be a civil war. On the other hand, there might not be. Either way, it's no skin off our nose. It seems clear to me that it would better for us if the Iraqis were shooting each other rather than all of them shooting at us, which is likely to be the outcome of further wearing out our already-threadbare welcome.
But to suppose that the Iraqis cannot govern themselves unless we set up their government for them is, of course, racist and patronizing. Besides, wanting to establish democracy in Iraq is another lie. What we want is a puppet government that will give us permanent military bases, not mess with the contracts the occupational government has already handed out, make peace with Israel and reopen the oil pipeline to Haifa, Israel.
The Iraqi people are not stupid. Their civilization is lot older than ours. They know exactly what the game is. That they will go along with this scheme is another grossly mistaken assumption by the ideologues in the White House and at the Pentagon.
It's also claimed that if we leave prematurely, Iraq will become a haven for terrorists. That's not likely. The Sunnis and the Kurds have no great love for al-Qaida, and al-Qaida hates the Shiites. Once we exit, I predict that life spans will grow exceedingly short for any leftover terrorists.
But, the politicians say, we have to establish security. Well, my grandmother's doily — we've been there a year and have failed miserably to establish security. What makes the gods on the Potomac believe that we will suddenly be successful in the future? The fact is, the Iraqis, if left to themselves, can probably establish security much more quickly than we ever could. They have had zilch experience with democracy but lots and lots of experience with security.
The American people ought to wake up and realize that maintaining a world empire with the dopes and nerds we have elected is impossible and can lead only to national ruin. Running our own country is job enough.
May 15, 2004
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.