On the invasion of Iraq, Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush, "If you break it you own it."
In an interview with the Atlantic, General Powell said of his warning that it,
"was a simple statement of the fact that when you take out a regime and you bring down a government, you become the government. On the day that the statue came down and Saddam Hussein's regime ended, the United States was the occupying power. We might also have been the liberating power, and we were initially seen as liberators. But we were essentially the new government until a government could be put in place. And in the second phase of this conflict, which was beginning after the statue fell, we made serious mistakes in not acting like a government. One, maintaining order. Two, keeping people from destroying their own property. Three, not having in place security forces--either ours or theirs or a combination of the two to keep order. And in the absence of order, chaos ensues."
Let me repeat that last line by one of the greatest of living Americans, "And in the absence of order, chaos ensues."
And chaos is what we have in Iraq, and while Barack Obama isn't George W. Bush and did not authorize the war, he is invested in it, and his decision to send 300 military advisers back to Iraq amid the ever increasing anarchy that has come to that country and the Middle East, will resolve neither Iraq's nor the region's disorder. And every dollar we spend in pursuit of peace will be dollars wasted -- of which we have already wasted more than $757,800,000,000,000,000!
Back in March, here in The Sentinel, I wrote:
"During the seven years and nine months of the Iraq War, 4,486 Americans died. The 'official' count of the wounded, 32,021 (some estimates place it higher than 100,000). The dollar cost, according to a Brown University study, $757 billion. (I wrote the figure above numerically; because when you write million or billion the difference is often lost on readers and the distinction needs to be understood -- it is a very great distinction.)
"We went into Iraq because the president of the United States said Saddam Hussein had 'weapons of mass destruction'; which was echoed by the vice president and the president's national security advisor. Based upon their assurances, Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the UN and said, with ostensible photographic proof, Iraq had such weapons...
"There were no weapons of mass destruction."
I also wrote, "While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were being fought by one percent of our people, we, the other 99 percent, were at home, otherwise disengaged."
And so we remain.
Recently, on my Facebook page, I asked, "Is anyone having second thoughts about Saddam Hussein?"
I then wrote, "I think if you ask any mother or father, wife or husband, sister or brother, who lost a son or daughter in Iraq, whether losing their loved one in exchange for ridding Iraq of Saddam, was worth it? I am certain the overwhelming response would be, 'No! I want my child back."
I do not wish George W. Bush ill, ever, but there is no way he or Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice can escape responsibility for the greatest military mistake the USA ever made - and while the military was complicit in the decision, ultimate blame lies at the president's desk, because, as President Truman believed, "The buck stops here!"
Shame on the president and vice president and national security adviser and on every member of Congress who voted to go to war - and Mrs. Clinton is not getting a pass because she now regrets her vote approving that unmitigated disaster!
But in the assignment of blame, names of the guilty, beginning at the White House and on Capitol Hill, is long.
When the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002" came before the Senate and House on October 16, 2002, the members voting Yea were 374; the members voting Nay, 156.
In the Senate 77 senators voted for the Resolution, including 29 Democrats (now Vice President Biden voted "Yea"); in the House, 297 voted "Yea"; 133 voted "Nay", 126 were Democrats.
Thus an overwhelming majority in Congress, in their cowardly acquiescence, gave Bush 43 the cover he needed to invade Iraq and revenge Saddam for having insulted his daddy.
In Machiavelli's The Prince, written in 1513, we read, "Therefore a Prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty because with a few example he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorder to arise."
Mr. Churchill famously said that "Democracy is the worst form of government, save for all the rest." I would not dissent from the great man's view, but neither is democracy suited for many nations of the world - Iraq being one stunning example.
Yes, Saddam Hussein did evil things, not least the gassing of the Kurds, but under his rigid rule, the women of Iraq enjoyed greater freedom than in any other Middle Eastern country (Israel, obviously exempted), and there was order in his land, and thousands weren't having their body parts splattered in tiny pieces of human flesh on the streets of Baghdad by suicide bombers.
And the ISIS invasion now under way, destroying whatever semblance of order that existed, would never have occurred.
The cover of the June 20 issue of Time Magazine carries the headline, "The End of Iraq", the great divide in that country, Time tells us, dates from 632, when followers of the Prophet Muhammad split over whether leadership should stay within the family of the Prophet or be decided by the Muslim community, and thus was born 1,382 years ago the Shi'ite/Sunni divide - and only in the monumental hubris of the United States do we believe we can bridge the divide; that we can heal the wounds inflicted by more than a thousand years of fratricide.
Like hell we can!
And finally, in the matter of Saddam Hussein, please explain how, during the eight year rule of Prime Minister Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki's reign, the lives of ordinary Iraqis have improved.