The War in Iraq (UPDATED)

1 Sep

Yesterday, President Barack Obama announced that the fighting in Iraq was finally over. All that was left was to get our people out and help the Iraqis transition into a self-sufficient government. The surge worked. Our political arm-twisting worked. Our efforts to better connect with community leaders on the ground worked. Obama praised the troops, praised President Bush, and reminded people that he had opposed the war. Republicans like John Boehner and John McCain took the opportunity to remind the American people that Obama is an America-hating motherf*cker.

But contrary to what Boehner and McCain said – that Obama should say in his speech that he was wrong about the surge and Bush was right, the thing we should be examining is whether we should have invaded a sovereign Iraq in the first place.

Back in 2002, America was still reeling from 9/11, and Iraq was subjected to myriad UN sanctions, inspection schemes, no-fly zones, and other restrictions stemming from its invasion of Kuwait and subsequent defeat a decade before. Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly a brutal dictator whose Ba’athist Arabic-unity, socialist ideology had been perverted into nothing more than an Arabic construct of fascism. His rule was corrupt and murderous, and he had started two expansionist wars during his reign, neither of which worked out well for his country. He, on the other hand, lived like a king.

But there are lots of bad actors running horribly brutal dictatorships around the world. We can’t invade them all. Nor, if you ask most Republicans when they’re being honest, should we. Just ask most Republican commentators when President Clinton got NATO militarily involved in Bosnia and Serbia.

Turning back to 2002, the UN had implemented a new set of sanctions based on what turned out to be incorrect intelligence that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The UN – never one to rush into war – sent neutral inspectors into Iraq to look for these WMDs. Hans Blix’s team of inspectors went everywhere the US government told them to look. Spy satellites, after all, don’t lie.

UNMOVIC inspectors under Hans Blix were in Iraq for 111 days, and they never found a single WMD.

United States troops were in Iraq for 2,724 days, and they never found a single WMD. As I promised Brian here, I’ll clarify that statement. US forces did find stockpiles of old WMDs that the Saddam regime had in its possession, and which it had used against Iran, Kuwait, and the Kurds. The US did not, however, find any evidence of any new production or ramp-ups towards same. We know Saddam had used gas in Kuwait and on Kurds. But that’s not what we were sold in 2003 when Powell addressed the Security Council.

…the facts and Iraq’s behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction…

…A second source, an Iraqi civil engineer in a position to know the details of the program, confirmed the existence of transportable facilities moving on trailers.

A third source, also in a position to know, reported in summer 2002 that Iraq had manufactured mobile production systems mounted on road trailer units and on rail cars.

Finally, a fourth source, an Iraqi major, who defected, confirmed that Iraq has mobile biological research laboratories, in addition to the production facilities I mentioned earlier….

The war was based on either poor information or lies. Neither one will resurrect a fallen American or innocent Iraqi civilian.

And the follow-up “rationales”? Hamas and Israel continue to murder each other. What a fundamental waste of lives, money, and dignity.

That was the legal basis on which we invaded Iraq – that they had deliberately violated UN sanctions regarding WMDs. There was no other legal rationale. What the Bush Administration’s neoconservative hawks did was just shift the objective to eliminating Ba’athism, regime change, stopping Iraq’s support for terror, help Israel in its efforts against terrorism, etc. After 7 years of battles, death, destruction, we gave Iraq its democracy, but the other regional goals have never been met. Instead, Iraq became flypaper for every disaffected, pimpled Arab teen who wanted to kill Americans. Once Saddam was gone, we had Zarqawi to deal with. Thousands of American men and women died.

So, to my mind, it’s not time to navel-gaze about whether the surge worked and whether Obama was wrong about it, and whether he is sufficiently remorseful or introspective about how wrong he was. Instead, we should re-evaluate why we invaded Iraq in the first place, further destabilizing an already unstable region; subjecting an oppressed people to 7+ years of war, terrorism, and occupation.

To my mind, it’s time to re-examine the so-called “Powell Doctrine”, which was completely disregarded in March 2003 by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and his bosses.

  • Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  • Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  • Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  • Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  • Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  • Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  • Is the action supported by the American people?
  • Do we have genuine broad international support?
  • I’m glad it’s over, but that’s a lot of people dead to get rid of a petty dictator. Thank the troops for their service, but question their leaders for sending them there.

    30 Responses to “The War in Iraq (UPDATED)”

    1. Ward September 1, 2010 at 8:05 am #

      Sen. Obama on the surge, January 10, 2007, the night it was announced: “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

      Of course, to his minions, it is “not time to navel-gaze about whether the surge worked and whether Obama was wrong about it …”

      Another thing–why did he have the Oval Office redone with only two years remaining in his presidency?

      • Alan Bedenko September 1, 2010 at 8:15 am #

        To remove the crayon drawings from the walls.

    2. Bbill September 1, 2010 at 8:25 am #

      Here’s an inventory report

      btw when you read comments from people who get their information from Fox “News” or Limbaugh, remember you can meet them right here

      Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” Rally – Interviews With Participants

    3. Hank September 1, 2010 at 8:56 am #

      Odumbo was against the war before he was for it. Obvious tutelage under John Kerry (who served in Vietnam, don’t forget). He was against the surge that created the end result. VP Joe Bite Me wanted to partition Iraq into 3 seperate countries.

      Now both of the scuzzbuckets are standing up there taking the credit. Only one real misstep in his wording, though he’s gone from being the nutty professor to the BORING professor, Patriots were for the war, Traitors were against it.

    4. Bbill September 1, 2010 at 9:00 am #

      Patriots were for the war, Traitors were against it.

      In Iran, sure. They’re the ones who benefitted the most. Thanks neocons.

    5. Hank September 1, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      Good God Bbill—if “Neocon” is all you have, don’t bother to comment.

    6. Bbill September 1, 2010 at 9:46 am #

      Best of luck, Hank.

      The hippies were right, the stoopids were wrong. It was obvious then, it’s obvious now.

    7. lulu September 1, 2010 at 11:49 am #

      May God Bless the soldiers coming home and those that remain behind.

    8. Ward September 1, 2010 at 11:52 am #

      I notice that, now that he has been appointed by 0bama, the lefties no longer call him “General Betray-us”. And Nancy Pelosi has shut up entirely on Iraq (thank Goodness).

    9. STEEL September 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm #


      Obama was handed the Iraq war by the Bush regime. It was a war that started by Bush under false pretense, a war in which many people both American and Iraqi died. They died for Bush for no reason other than Bush’s arrogance. Obama was against the war and any expansion of it. His position has always been consistent. Now he is ending the war, a war that Bush had no plan for ending.

    10. Kevin J. September 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

      OK, Ward, name some “lefties” who called General Petraeus “Betray-Us.” I remember hearing the term one or twice, but I assume you’ve got a long list of officeholders, elected, appointed officials and media types who just crowed this line.

      A list of right-wing whack jobs who claim President Obama is foreign-born is easier to find and larger; just start with GOP members of Congress. And “Odumbo?” Are you paid by the fucking stupid comment, Hank? You must be rich by now.

    11. BobbyCat September 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

      The surge was designed to flood troops into area to buy some (peace) time for a government to form. The troops quelled the violence but to this day no suitable government was formed – said NBC correspondent Richard Engle this morning. Of course the surge quelled the violence. It had to. But the political objective was not achieved. Bush’s pay-back against Saddam Hussein cost too many lives. One Hellfire missile fired from one drone would have done the job.

      One weak-minded President cause so much havoc and so many unintended consequences. But we didn’t learn any lesson. Now we want to elect another uneducated President. But who will it be ? Palin, Beck, Boehner, some other nitwit? What new travesties await?

    12. Bruce Beyer (member WNY Peace Center) September 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

      If the war is over why were five Iraq war vets standing in front of deployment buses at Ft. Hood @ 3:00am. 5,000 “non-combat” soldiers were deployed three days ago. There is no such thing as a non-combat soldier, it’s a contradiction of terms. Obama/Bush — no difference. Soldiers still die, Iraq’s people suffer, contractors are making gobs of money, and the taxpayers of this country are being gouged by a fabricated and bloated military budget.

    13. Art Ziller September 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Right on BobbyCat… 50,000 Americans and close to a million vietnamese died to make that country safe for culinary tourism. It is sad what American presidents do to avoid political costs. Obama should withdraw troops from Afghanistan but won’t out of fear that a subsequent terror attack would be blamed on him. And he’s one of the good guys… as was LBJ. Presdents dont have to be weak-minded… they only need merely crave re-election or legacy. We slaughter each other century after century. There is always a justification. Always. What a species!

    14. Jon Splett September 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

      709 Billion dollars could have bought a whole hell of a lot of people some health care. Instead, we got absolutely nothing but bloodshed for it.

    15. Ward September 2, 2010 at 7:57 am #

      Oh, you’re right Steal. 0bama never said the surge wouldn’t work. I made that up.

      And Kevin J: the General Betray Us ad was never on your favorite website from 2007 until it was removed June 24, 2010. I made that up too. The phrase was never once uttered by lefties like you.

      (Reminds me of the old Communist Party group photos from which Uncle Joe Stalin’s face, or that of Bulganin suddenly disappears. Never existed, right?)

    16. Brian Castner September 2, 2010 at 7:59 am #

      Thank you, in the interest of truth, and free discussion, and reasonableness, etc etc blah blah.

      Now, got any men’s shirts? You know, for men?

      • Alan Bedenko September 2, 2010 at 8:32 am #

        @Brian something in a dark black.

    17. Bbill September 2, 2010 at 8:08 am #

      Don’t worry, Limbaugh followers. The Texas textbooks will soon reveal the truth about the Iraq debacle, that it was all Michael Moore’s fault.

    18. Bbill September 2, 2010 at 8:19 am #

      Are you paid by the fucking stupid comment, Hank? You must be rich by now.

      Of course he is, otherwise he’d be loudly advocating against his own economic interests by parroting Koch bros / Murdoch propaganda. That would be pretty stupid, wouldn’t it.

    19. Kevin J. September 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

      OK, used it, Ward; big fucking deal. I never did at any time, whether in writing of speaking, and I’m sure most “lefties” did not, but go ahead and make this up in your head and believe we all did it. I’m still waiting for the name of one Democratic elected official who used it.

      My favorite website? I have been there once, I think. You seem to be going to more than this lefty. But then, I prefer the “reality based” world.

    20. STEEL September 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

      Ward. I said Obama has been entirely consistent with his opposition of the war and any expansion of it.

    21. Ward September 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

      Really, Steelie?

      Here’s Obammy on July 22, 2008 saying he thought the surge was working all along:

      What I can say is that there’s no doubt that our U.S. troops have contributed to a reduction of violence in Iraq. I said that, not just today, not just yesterday, but I’ve said that previously.

    22. Bbill September 3, 2010 at 8:16 am #

      Shorter Limbaugh / Beck worshipers: If we divert attention to Obama and call him names, maybe we can avoid making excuses for the criminals.

      We certainly want to avoid conversations like this:

    23. Ward September 3, 2010 at 11:41 am #

      What “criminals”, Bbbbbbbbill? I didn’t see any mention of criminals in this thread.

      If it’s not too taxing of your abilities, read the 0bama quotes in posts #1 (hint, it’s toward the top) and #24 (almost at the bottom). Junior Senator 0bama’s statements are not criminal, just disingenuous (that’s grownup talk for “dishonest”).

    24. Bbill September 3, 2010 at 11:55 am #

      These criminals.

    25. Bbill September 3, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      btw Ward when you listen to Limbaugh every day, do you notice that he doesn’t have much respect for his audience’s intelligence? There’s a reason for that.

    26. Ward September 3, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      Sorry, Bbbbbbbbbbbill–I work during the day.

      Criminals, eh? Why don’t you sic your A.G. Geoffrey Holder on them? He’s doing so awfully well with the Arizona thingy.

    27. joker September 4, 2010 at 12:19 am #

      Obama renaming several combat divisions as “advise and assist” divisions is not only doublespeak, it is an insult to the American soldiers who have died there since the last “combat” troops were pulled out.


    1. An End and a Beginning « - September 1, 2010

      […] colleague, Alan, wrote a column today on the end of major combat in Iraq, and in it sought to address the run up to the war as the major issue to be discussed today. I […]

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