5 years in

It’s an article of faith among the left-wing of the Democratic Party, and a growing number of Republicans, that the Iraq War has been an unmitigated disaster. Although the five years of war that we commemorate today have been difficult, I am one of the dwindling number of Americans who continue to support our government and the goals we have tried to accomplish in the Mideast.

That doesn’t mean, however, that mistakes in strategy and execution have not been made. Clearly, faulty intelligence, and an attempt to save money and political capital caused our leaders to underestimate the number of troops needed to accomplish the task. Fortunately, the surge advocated by Sen. McCain was adopted and is turning the tide, something that opponents of the war seem blind to.

I said when this all started five years ago that we might not know for 500 years whether our intervention in this volatile region was a success. I don’t believe, however, that we really had any other choice but to challenge Islamic extremism in a direct and forceful way.

That extremism, and the terroism it employs, are the result of a fundamentally failed culture. The hatred that is loosed on Israel on a daily basis and that came to our shores on 9/11 has its origin in the self-loathing of the Arab world. Simply put, their lives are miserable. They have no economy, besides oil, no real education system or technolocy, no civil rights for women or anybody else.

Worst of all they have no freedom, and life under Saddam was the textbook example of that. Iraq before the invasion was a state in which a megalomaniac enforced absolute power by terrorizing the masses. Mass murder and torture were Saddam’s favorite pastimes.

Sure, there are other such states in the world, but none of them are sitting in such a strategic location in the middle of the world’s biggest oil fields. It is simply naive to think that doing anything other than protecting our vital economic interests in that part of the world is in our long-term best interest. Saddam had already invaded Iran and Kuwait, and if he was not poised to try again, eventually his sons would have.

It is for this reason that I will be unable to vote for Sen. Barack Obama, despite his many other charms. His candidacy is a welcome sign of hope for a post-racial society, but his international views are overly simplistic and unrealistic.

On the other hand, I deplore the right-wing “swift-boating” of his candidacy over the views of  his pastor, just as I deplore the racist campaign that Hillary’s surrogates have tried to gin up. In his brave speech yesterday, Obama has challenged all Americans to face the prejudice and racism that still thrives in our culture.

Having Obama serve as a major party nominee will send a great message to the world and to our own children. In a less dangerous world, it would be good for him to win. In the real world in which we live, however, with the real enemies that we face, we need a leader who is willing to stay the course in Iraq, even if it takes 5 more years.

If for nothing else, we owe that to all those who have sacrificed so much and even laid down their lives to bring us this far.

7 responses to “5 years in

  1. originalthinker

    “In the real world..” Absolutely correct my friend. Great analysis, appreciate the good commentary.

    DB Reese

  2. We invaded Iraq to (pick one or all three if you’re Republican):
    A. Stop them from bombing us with their nuclear bombs
    B. Stop the terrorists that were using Iraq as a base of operations
    C. To free the poor Iraqis from the oppression they were under

    The only problem is:
    There were no nukes, no terrorists, and more innocent people have been tortured/killed in Iraq under the US occupation, then the last 10 years under Saddam Hussein.

    As Dick Cheney would say, “So”.

  3. Sadam may have represented a lot of things but he did not represent Islamic terrorism. His was a secular regime – a regime that rightly or wrongly kept Iran in check. As with Viet Nam and other areas in our military past, we are not very good at grasping the true landscape of the local politics in these regions. Furthermore, we thought in Viet Nam we could be successful where the French had failed; in Afghanistan, we were nearly successful where the Russians had failed until we opened up another front in this mess. Obama is anything but naieve. Imagine what he had to overcome politically and in every other way to become the Editor of the Harvard Law Review? His background uniquely qualifies him to represent and lead this country: He is a well-traveled, well-educated man who wants to give something else a try. That is not naieve when trying to fix something that has been broken for so long and all else has failed. Surely his mentor at his church has been harsh and overbearing in his criticisms of the US but had he expressed himself otherwise, his case that 9-11 was something we had brought on ourselves was not totally out of line. Remember the novel, “The Ugly American”? Well, the message of that tome has been lost in the dust. Now we are saddled with one heck of an ugly administration. Our economic interests and security are not undermined by a more thoughtful approach to foreign policy that involves improved communication. After all, hot wired red phones may be fast but they have not proved effective. Perhaps there is no need to await a 3:00 AM call if the preceeding days are filled with more fruitful interactions with our adversaries.

  4. As to point # 3:

    According to a 2003 article in the liberal NY Times, “Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi émigrés and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have “disappeared” into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000.”

    A more accurate account may be from the Documental Centre for Human Rights in Iraq which has compiled documentation on over 600,000 civilian executions in Iraq.

    Human Rights Watch reports that in one operation alone, the Anfal, Saddam killed 100,000 Kurdish Iraqis. Another 500,000 are estimated to have died in Saddam’s needless war with Iran.

    Coldly taken as a daily average for the 24 years of Saddam’s reign, these numbers give us a horrifying picture of between 70 and 125 civilian deaths per day for every one of Saddam’s 8,000-odd days in power.

    As you Democrats would say, “So?”

  5. Sadam was not an Islamic fundamentalist; he was a secular tyrant. He never was in league with Iran. He was our rather unpleasant bulwark against them. We have counted upon worse despots in some countries to protect our interests.

    As an attorney yourself, Corrin, you are well aware of the import attached to the prestigious “Harvard Law Review” and the honor it was for Obama to be its editor. He is not very naieve about human nature and of how it translates into conflict. He has had to walk the thin line for decades in a country not fully recovered from the despotism in our own midst, slavery.
    Further “training” in international issues and in the importance of knowing the local landscape of a foreign country came from the years Obama spent abroad in school and in travel.
    Here is a man who has had a very successful period of communication with the voters in the US of all stripes. I am now in Devon, PA and I can tell you that in many of the upscale neighborhoods, his signs abound in equal number to those of the “H” factor.
    Obama’s desire to replace failed policies and actions with new initiatives is courageous not naieve. And as for his mentor clergyman whose fire and brimstone sermons and pronouncements have been scrutinized of late, aside from the bombastic and aggressive way in which he put forth the view that 9-11 was the result of our actions overseas, many believe that he is not far from the truth. We have been “Ugly Americans” for decades in our foreign relations. We thought that we could succeed where France had failed in Viet Nam and we thought we could succeed in Afghanistan where the Russians had failed. Why were we so naieve as to open up a multiple front war in the Middle East? The only viable excuse is protecting “our” interest in oil resources.
    If corporate giants in the US had abated their greed and joined in the push for energy independence following the first oil embargo, then perhaps Iraq would not have been a conflict in which we had a vested interest. We cannot police the world. Let the Middle East politicians an despots be led not invaded by US personnel bent on getting a peace agreement or two worked out as in Northern Ireland. We have to keep trying. As Winston Churchill said “wse must never, never, ever give up.” Call me naieve. I would love to be in the company of B arack Obama. I am in the company of those who have owned a fuel efficient vehicle since the first oil embargo and have also consolidated trips since that time. That is not naieve. That is being a student of human nature and that is what Obama is so good at.

  6. Hmm…you may recall
    As the New York Times reported in August 2002:
    Though senior officials of the Reagan administration publicly condemned Iraq’s employment of mustard gas, sarin, VX and other poisonous agents, the American military officers said President Reagan, Vice President George Bush and senior national security aides never withdrew their support for the highly classified program in which more than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq.

    You may also remember this piece by William Blum… “According to a 1994 Senate report, private American suppliers, licensed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, exported a witch’s brew of biological and chemical materials to Iraq from 1985 through 1989. Among the biological materials, which often produce slow, agonizing death, were:
    • Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.
    • Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.
    • Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart.
    • Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.
    • Clostridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness.
    • Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.
    Also on the list: Escherichia coli (E. coli), genetic materials, human and bacterial DNA, and dozens of other pathogenic biological agents. “These biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction,” the Senate report stated. “It was later learned that these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program.”
    The report noted further that U.S. exports to Iraq included the precursors to chemical-warfare agents, plans for chemical and biological warfare production facilities, and chemical-warhead filling equipment.
    The exports continued to at least November 28, 1989, despite evidence that Iraq was engaging in chemical and biological warfare against Iranians and Kurds since as early as 1984.”
    As the Republicans say SO!

  7. Saddam was not an Islamic fundamentalist; he was a secular tyrant. He
    never was in league with Iran. He was our rather unpleasant front line
    in our program to vilify the Muslim state. We have counted upon worse
    despots in other countries to protect our interests.

    As for Barack Obama, he is a man who has entered into a very successful
    dialogue with voters of all stripes. If his powerful oratory can bring
    disparate factions in this country to enthusiastically support him, think of
    the impact he may have on the international scene? His desire to replace
    failed policies and actions with new initiatives is courageous not naive.

    His mentor clergyman has caused Obama his first difficult days of the
    primary season. His views are bombastic and inappropriately delivered but
    face it, we have been characterized as “Ugly Americans” for decades. We
    would be naïve to believe that we were honored and respected globally for
    our policies. Our policies were an accident such as 9-11 waiting to happen.

    In reviewing “conflicts” in which we have been engaged since the 50’s, our
    elected leaders have been more than naïve to have believed that we could
    have succeeded in Vietnam when France had failed; that we could have
    succeeded in Afghanistan where the Russians had failed. Most recently, they
    have been naive in opening up a multiple front war in the Middle East.

    The initial excuse for going into Iraq was the hint of weapons of mass
    destructions. This argument morphed to one of we had to protect our
    interests there. We have not protected our interests there; our aggression
    has only heightened the animosity of many in control of the world’s oil
    resources such as Hugo Chavez.

    Barak Obama may be a newcomer to national politics on a large scale but he
    is not unqualified for the Presidency. He IS experienced in many key areas.
    Especially important is his experience walking the thin line between
    cultures and races here and abroad from a young age. That alone qualifies
    him as our best hope for dealing with the rising third world countries with
    which we must now deal head on.

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