President Bush teared up on Memorial Day and said we must complete the mission in Iraq to honor the 18,000 wounded and 2,400-plus dead.
Well, I have a question. What is the mission?
Is it to overthrow Saddam Hussein? He’s been overthrown and is awaiting execution by a kangaroo court we selected to do the hit.
Is it to allow the Iraqi people to hold elections? They’ve held three elections — one for an interim government, one for a Constitution, and one for a permanent government, which is now in place except for two Cabinet positions.
Oh, I forgot that when the president was selling this war, he said the mission was to disarm Saddam because he had all those awful weapons of mass destruction. Well, of course, they didn’t exist, and now the president doesn’t talk about them.
But if the purpose was to install an elected government, why are we still there? Why are we spending half a billion dollars to build the world’s largest embassy, one that dwarfs Saddam’s palaces and that ticks off the Iraqi people? Why, after three years and billions of our tax dollars, do the Iraqi people lack electricity, clean water and sewers? They had all those things under Saddam until we destroyed them with our bombs and missiles.
And if we want the Iraqi army to handle security, why are its soldiers still driving around in Toyotas? Where are their armored personnel carriers, their tanks, their light machine guns and light artillery? Surely there is a lot of that stuff left over. Why doesn’t the president stop spreading heifer dust? We take an 18-year-old kid, give him 18 weeks of training and ship him off to combat. Is this administration saying it takes five years to train an Iraqi lad?
I think the only real mission left is to wipe the egg off the president’s face. The invasion of Iraq was unconstitutional. There was no declaration of war, just a namby-pamby, you-can-use-force-if-you-want-to resolution passed by those spineless mountebanks who inhabit Congress. It was illegal under international law, since Iraq had not attacked us or even threatened to attack us. Iraq was cooperating with the arms inspectors and telling the truth about the lack of weapons. That’s why the U.N. Security Council refused to give the president the resolution he wanted as a cover for his war.
Most of all, though, it was flat stupid, as anybody who knows the Middle East could have told him. To use a favorite phrase of his father, when the prez ordered the invasion of Iraq, he stepped into deep doo-doo of the camel variety. I doubt if he knows how to get out of Iraq even if he wanted to, and I don’t think he does. I think he intends to stay there indefinitely.
And if that’s his intention, then he should tell the American people that their sons and daughters will continue to die or be maimed indefinitely. The Iraqis are a fierce people. No elf is going to sprinkle fairy dust on them and make them fall in love with us. Why should they? We destroyed their country and caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children just with the sanctions, not counting the thousands we’ve killed since then.
The Iraqis have many admirable traits, but I don’t think forgiveness is one of them. Does the president remember what the Iraqi father told an American officer when the officer asked what compensation he would accept for his son, whom one of our soldiers had killed? He said, "Ten dead Americans."
And what has the president’s blundering accomplished? He’s converted an old enemy of Iran into a new ally of Iran. Did he hear the Iraqi prime minister when he said no attacks on Iran from Iraqi soil will be tolerated? Did the president hear him when he said Iran has a right to enrich uranium? The president has created gas lines in an oil-rich country. He’s restarted inflation and the Cold War.
Perhaps we’re the ones who should be tearing up. We have two more years of this guy, and he still believes that, except for a misspoke word now and then, he’s done everything right. At least he’s smart enough not to go hunting with Dick Cheney. That’s our small consolation.
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.