Even now, nine years later, my anger rises to a level even Paxil can’t control as I think about the Necons’ two Wars of Choice. Now that it’s almost all over, let’s look at the results: 2,583 coalition deaths in Afghanistan; and oh yeah, those civilians who don’t matter much: 12,793 dead. In Iraq, the U.S. body count is 4,487 and those pesky civilians died to the tune of 162,000, which of course could be much more. That’s nearly 200,000 dead and countless others maimed and driven crazy. And oh yeah, $1.324 TRILLION was expended by the U.S. on both fronts. For what??
Granted, Saddam wasn’t exactly a sweetheart, and he managed to kill about 1 million of his own people in the span of 24 years. Yet was there no way of removing him from power – or having him removed – that didn’t entail horrifying casualties, the complete disruption of life in Baghdad, and the looting of a Museum which contained some of mankind’s most precious artifacts?
Not according to the Neocons. Per this genius brain trust, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” – Condi . Forget that Bush’s “intelligence” about Iraq’s nuclear program was completely discredited before the 2003 invasion. Ideologues like William Kristol could still proclaim: “The world is a mess. And, I think, it’s very much to Bush’s credit that he’s gotten serious about dealing with it. . . . The danger is not that we’re going to do too much. The danger is that we’re going to do too little.” Guess what, Bill? We did too much to promulgate the Necon wet dream of “democracy promotion” in the Middle East.
Perhaps Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (a Republican!) said it best: “”So why did we invade Iraq? I believe it was the triumph of the so-called neo-conservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence that took America into this war of choice. . . . They obviously made a convincing case to a president with very limited national security and foreign policy experience. . .” Right. Let them stand up and be counted: Cheney, Lieberman, McCain, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Scooter Libby, Condi, so-called writer Kristol, David Brooks, and Doug Feith. If any of them had an ounce of shame, they would self-immolate in front of the White House.
I don’t include W. among the perpetrators, since he was merely a puppet dangled from Cheney’s arm. He was too busy praying to Jesus to listen to saner voices, like Colin Powell’s. Who said of his embarrassing 2003 speech before the U.N., in which he cited truck movement to justify an Iraq invasion, “[it’s] “a lasting blot on my record” No duh. Now live with it.
Let’s remember some of the classic quotes and actions from those long-ago days of ’03: “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk” – George Tenet, then-head of the CIA. “Mission Accomplished” and the flight suit. George Bush action dolls. General Shinseki reprimanded by Wolfowitz for saying we needed several hundred thousand soldiers in Iraq, and then we end up sending a million troops all told. Oil money was going to pay for Iraqi reconstruction. (Wolfowitz again). Find a cave, Paul. It worked pretty well for Osama.
Let’s focus our minds on the incredible bevy of lies we were force fed prior to the Neocon Blitz. The “intelligence” garnered from Iraqi defector “Curveball,” who has admitted he lied his ass off about WMDs.  The forged documents “proving” that Sadaam had tried to purchase yellowcake powder from Nigeria. Hell, even the Italians could tell they were fake! The shoving down our throats threats of WMDs which never materialized, even though the Bush Administration continued searching for years. The inevitability of the Iraq invasion post-9/11, which, per Bob Woodward, Bush and Cheney began planning by December of that year. The ominous hinting of some “link” between Sadaam and Al- Qaeda, which, hello! never existed.
But say it enough times, and the American public is dumb enough to swallow anything. Like forgetting that most of the hijackers hailed from Saudi Arabia – but wait, those are our allies! So let’s target an old hated enemy instead. We got him, but at what cost, in human lives and dollars? If we’d had that trillion plus when the Neocons’ pals, Wall Street, blew up the economy, we might have been able to weather it better. Or at least not cut food stamps and aid for the disabled.
Let’s look at the other culpable parties, starting with Congress. Twenty-three brave Senators voted against the Iraq War Resolution, among them: Barbara Boxer (proud to have her as our rep!), the late Ted Kennedy, Patty Murray, Harry Reed, Paul Wellstone, and Russ Feingold. All of them, but one (Lincoln Chafee), Democrats. In the House, 296 craven Congressman (215 of them Republicans) voted for Bush’s Folly, uh, Doctrine.
Then there were the “embedded” reporters from the networks. Nothing guarantees objectivity like actually traveling with the troops (upon whom you depend for your safety and/or life). And accepting every General’s briefing as if it were the Sermon On the Mount. Because questioning the Neocons’ two Wars Of Choice would be un-American, anti-9/11, and as suspect as wearing a Che shirt.
So what have we left in our wake? In Afghanistan, a U.S. puppet government that was “surprised” by the ferocity of recent insurgent attacks. What do you want to bet that Mullah Omar crawls out of his spider hole and takes back control within the next few years? In the meantime, Iraq is a mess, a “budding police state” according to Human Rights Watch. Al Qaeda in Iraq (nonexistent before us) is having a field day.
And the Neocons? They are actually pressing forward with dreams to attack Iran. To quote retired General Anthony Zinni: “If you liked Iraq and Afghanistan, you’ll love Iran.” What is it that precludes these people from learning? Is Dick Cheney embedded in their brains?