Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Why we're in Iraq
Here, I don't have to be that patient; this is my living room, after a fashion. It's where I can come to rest, and to rant, and to talk about things differently than I would when fighting for the dream.
And it's time for me to rant. Everything I say is an honestly held opinion, here, and carefully thought out. It's just, I'm not going to be too careful about upsetting people who hold different opinions. Is that clear? I hope so.
So, let's look at the situation. Why are we in Iraq?
Well, first was the question of WMDs. George W. Bush stated that he didn't think the intelligence was all that solid. He asked George Tenet if that was all he had... and George Tenet said that it was a slam dunk case.
Well, George Tenet was wrong.
Next was the suggestion that there were strong, and important, connections between Al Quaeda and Iraq. There were connections, but face it, you have two enemies of the United States; they have common interests, so there are going to be connections. There was no working relationship. If we were looking for governments that supported Al Quaeda, there were bigger fish to fry than Iraq.
Finally, there's freedom; the removal of Saddam Hussein, and freedom for the Iraqi people.
I hope we bring freedom to the Iraqi people. I really do. After we invaded their country, insisting that their leader had WMDs, after we killed tens of thousands of innocent people, they deserve that much. They deserve a hell of a lot more, but they deserve at least that much.
But I want you to think about this.
You have 150,000 soldiers. You have much more than one hundred billion dollars to spend. You have a maniacally hateful organization that killed 3,000 Americans.
Is the best way to protect America to spend over a hundred billion dollars, to see over 2000 of our soldiers killed, to reduce our combat readiness by a huge amount, in order to bring freedom to Iraq?
Bush has this wonderful dream that, if Iraq is free, then freedom will spread through the Middle East. It's a nice dream; I have no problem with that dream, but shouldn't we be demanding something more solid than dreams?
The neo-con dream sounded nice; we invade, overwhelm the Iraqi military, install an interim government, hold elections, and bam, a fast, cheap victory.
But even before the war started, Colin Powell was warning that it might not be that easy. Now, how many people are more respected, in military and civilian roles, than Colin Powell? We had a lot of other people who were giving warnings, but Colin Powell was the Secretary of State, chosen by George W. Bush, and however much Bush trusted other folks, he should have trusted Powell, too.
So, the success of the dream wasn't a certainty, either.
WMDs? Bush knew that the intelligence wasn't solid, but trusted George Tenet.
Al Quaeda? There were bigger fish to fry than Iraq. Al Quaeda didn't have a meaningful working relationship with Iraq. We could have gotten a lot more damage done to Al Quaeda at a much lower cost, if we'd done something else.
Freedom for the Iraqis? A noble idea, a wonderful dream, but again, it should not have been our top priority.
Now, I'll grant you: now that we've invaded, we have to see it through. We don't have a choice. Mind, we should be deciding right now what circumstances have to be met for us to leave. Not a timeline, but we should be deciding when we'll say "we've done all we can", and leave.
Otherwise, we could stay stuck in Iraq, losing the lives of our soldiers, and losing billions of dollars, indefinitely.
How many trained soldiers will the Iraqis need? What should their government look like? What jobs do we need to complete, so that we can say we're done, we've won?
But while we're doing that, we should also be asking the question up above in the title.
Why are we in Iraq?
Not because of WMDs; they weren't there, and we had our suspicions before the invasion.
Not because of Al Quaeda; there were other, better targets.
Not because of freedom for the Iraqis; the cost is too high, and the lost opportunities to do other things is too great. No one would have chosen to pay this price to bring the Iraqis to this stage, not in the aftermath of 9/11.
No, we are in Iraq for one reason, one that over-rides all the others.
We are in Iraq because George W. Bush fucked up.
He trusted George Tenet, and shouldn't have. In other words, he fucked up.
He let himself be blinded by advisors who ignored the evidence that Iraq was not the next step in taking down Al Quaeda. In other words, he fucked up.
He chose a course that was too expensive, at a time when America could not afford that expense, to pursue a wonderful dream, without recognizing (despite Colin Powell's warnings) that he had been fed an unrealistic vision. In other words, he fucked up.
And now we have to clean up after he fucked up. And you know what? That doesn't bother me quite so much as the way everyone seems to believe that he's some kind of hero, that people won't even acknowledge that he fucked up.
People can make mistakes, and the occupant of the White House has the opportunity to make bigger mistakes than anyone else.
The thing is, a true leader will admit to mistakes, rather than hoping the spin doctors can insist they were actually wonderful ideas. A real man will admit to his mistakes, and find a solution, working that much harder, because he's determined to redeem himself.
I can't trust George W. Bush to be either of those things. If you can, hey, it's your choice... but at least open your eyes, and look at the facts.