I opposed Iraq 1 and as a Virginia resident told Senator Chuck Robb that I could never again cast a vote for him because of his support for that adventure. I vehemently opposed Iraq 2 as an overreaction to 9/11 based on flimsy evidence at best to justify intervention that had no connection to those responsible for the WTC attack. Blame for that colossal mistake was truly bipartisan and I have held and still hold many Democrats accountable for the monumental miscalculation that is once again haunting us today.
So here we are again, facing nothing short of horrendous choices regarding what very well may amount to genocide. We sat and did nothing as Rwanda unfolded before the eyes of a disinterested international community of nations and we appropriately should vow to never let that happen again. Thus, it is with enormous angst that I must throw my support behind military and humanitarian actions to quell the atrocities taking place in Iraq at present.
While it accomplishes little to reach back and point blame for the mess that Iraq has become, the overriding lesson that must be learned from this sorry episode in America's continuing imperialist misadventures is that the consequences of a policy dictated by lies and deceit will follow us through the long-term and most assuredly adversely affect our standing on the world stage.
This brings me to Colin Powell, a person with extensive experience in Iraq 1 and 2. This is the man responsible for telling Bush 41 that he saw no exit strategy if we followed Iraqi troops from Kuwait into Baghdad. This is the man that has warned that if we break it we own it. Incredibly enough, however, this is the same individual who took center stage at the United Nations, fully equipped with false props and specious documentation to tell the international community that there was incontrovertible evidence that Saddam Hussein did in fact possess weapons of mass destruction. Well he is certainly right about one thing, we broke Iraq and now we own it.
The massive failure of American policy with respect to Iraq can be laid directly at the feet of the crooks and thieves who populated Bush 43's inner circle of advisors, led by the cheerleader-in-chief Dick Cheney. Cheney to this day carries forth with all the resolve of a kleptomaniac, excoriating Obama and insisting that the actions he personally coordinated are somehow justifiable even to this day. If he would have just exhibited one shred of dignity and gone away quietly to his Wyoming wilderness I would not be commenting on this at this point, but his delusional harping can only be seen as a desperate attempt to vindicate the failed policies of a criminal mind. He is a war criminal and should be treated like one.
But now that I have gotten that off my chest, let us turn to the critical issue at hand. I detest war, especially when promulgated under false pretenses. Vietnam, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the long ago debunked rationale for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, is a painful remembrance for those of my generation of the immense costs of such miscalculations with nearly 60,000 dead American soldiers, countless wounded and the long-lasting effects of Agent Orange and PTSD that haunt Veterans to this day. And the incalculable misery inflicted upon Vietnamese citizens, families, and villages remain as haunting images in the minds of baby boomers, veterans and non-veterans alike.
We of course simply cannot turn our backs on Iraq after the unspeakable damage we have perpetrated upon that nation and its citizens. From the botched de Ba'athification efforts led by Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority, to the installation and support of the al-Maliki regime that has fomented a fractured relationship between Sunnis and Shiites, American policy set in motion by the Bush Administration and in fairness carried on by the Obama Administration has made a basket case of this important Middle Eastern nation. It has complicated and made dangerous a region of the world infamous for its complications and danger.
We broke it and now we must own up to our responsibilities as humanitarians to tend to the devastation we have wrought. Yes, protecting innocent Iraqi populations from the ravages of murderous militants whose inhumanity could not even pass muster with al Queda is our responsibility. We bought that responsibility by invading a country that had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11 and had no weapons of mass destruction. We bought that responsibility by reconstructing a country with nary an inkling of the historical relationships between religious sects, geographical differences or cultural aspects of the nation or the region.
We have a responsibility to protect innocent citizens threatened by violence for their religious beliefs in the same way that we stand as a testament to the very notion of religious freedom which gave birth to this democratic experiment known as the United States. George Washington warned the nation of needless engagement in foreign entanglements and the grand neoconservative experiment that has been rendered a dreadful failure is destined to keep us engaged in Iraq for an extended period. This will occur despite the debilitating war fatigue that has set in with the American people.
But never let us forget that we must continue to uphold the banner of humanitarianism, whether it is on the Texas border, in Iraq, Gaza City or anywhere where innocent citizens are under threat of violence. Military intervention is only the ultimate last resort, unlike the warrantless adventurism propagated by the chicken hawks and neocons that hoodwinked a frustrated and frightened American citizenry in the wake of 9/11. That this shameful deception is to this day free of criminal prosecution defies all logic and sense of justice. That is the lesson to be learned here, that is what must never be repeated again in the name of freedom. That is the great failure of the contemporary morass that we find ourselves trapped in.