|US Military Vehicles Line Up To Leave Iraq|
I was against the war from the beginning...or more accurately, before the beginning. I didn't believe the official story of weapons of mass destruction, poised to be used against the West. It only made sense that that wasn't true. First of all, we'd smashed Iraq to smithereens ten years earlier, and had continued a huge containment since then, with vicious sanctions and no-fly zones. Secondly, is it likely that we would have sent hundreds of thousands of American troops in there, if they could have been wiped out by WMD? Not likely.
So I always figured the reasons were otherwise, mostly oil-related and some strategic, anti-Iranian, pro-Israeli reasons too. After all, a group of neo-conservative and liberal interventionist hawks had been pushing for regime change there ever since the end of the '91 war, and now these were the folks heading up the Defense Department and Vice-President's office. So it only made sense that this had been in the works for awhile. 9/11 was just a pretext for them, their 'Pearl Harbor', as they were wont to say.
But there was no stopping that war, once the propaganda machine in Washington got going. It was a fait accompli. I had a prayer vigil at my church the week before it began, praying for peace. Almost nobody came, just my supportive wife and about five other people. Funny, it didn't work. All it did for me was to allow me to say, I told you so. And that is not the outcome I was praying for.
So they got what they wanted. How'd it turn out?
Not so good, I'm afraid. Not so good. Nothing really turned out as expected. They didn't welcome us with flowers. Lots of Americans got killed or wounded. Many, many more Iraqis got killed or wounded. Iraq hasn't become a Jeffersonian democracy. Their infrastructure was mostly laid waste. Iran has more influence now than ever. The oil is going elsewhere, mostly. Our American billions (maybe trillions) spent in the process are mostly down the drain. The Kurds, Sunni, and Shiia are still at each other's throats.
I can surely understand our veterans, their families, and indeed, the American people as a whole, wanting to find some lasting meaning or honor in the adventure. But unfortunately, it was a blunder and disaster, so that's hard (though not impossible, I suppose) to do. The soldiers just did their duty, and so that will probably have to be enough.
As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wisely and bluntly put it as he left office recently, "In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’as General MacArthur so delicately put it."
Amen to that.