Just like with my own wedding anniversary, I'm a few days late recognizing the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War, but sincere in marking the occasion none the less.
As with wedding anniversaries (I am really sorry honey, I thought you liked Denny's and yes, in retrospect, a gift card for flowers is not the same as flowers ), another year having past is a good time to pause and take stock. Following the U.S. invasion of March 2003, we cycled through excuses for the war like gluttonous Mr. Creosote, never really satisfied as we passed through no WMDs, blood for oil, ridding the world of yet another evil dictator (while supporting so many others in Yemen, Egypt, and at that time Syria and Libya), stopping terrorism and all the rest. As the clock ran out in Iraq, we settled on "creating a 1) stable, 2) democratic Iraq that is an 3) ally of the U.S." And even that was like, whatever, two out of three maybe.
Sad to say even after 4,480 American deaths, 100,000+ dead Iraqis, trillions of greenbacks and all the rest, for most Americans wars are just another sporting event. We watch while it is going on, lose interest near the end and afterwards just declare it a victory (or a tie, we never lose) and change the channel to Syria.
But before we do that, today at least in honor of the anniversary, let's just have a quick look at Iraq.
Tuesday morning, at least 16 near-simultaneous explosions struck cities and towns (Baghdad+Karbala+Kirkuk+Ramadi+Mosul+Hilla+Tikrit+TuzKhurmatu+Daquq+Baiji+Dibis
+AlDhuluiyah+Samarra+Baquba+Mahmudiyah) across Iraq, killing at least 45 people and wounding more than 200, despite a massive security clampdown ahead of next week's Arab League summit. It was Iraq's deadliest day in nearly a month, and the breadth of coordinated bombs showed an apparent determination by insurgents to prove that the government cannot keep the country safe ahead of the summit.
Malaki still holds some senior cabinet positions for himself, and still has an arrest warrant out for his own VP, who is in hiding in Kurdistan where Baghdad's law does not apply. On Monday, a million loyalists of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rallied in south Iraq Monday decrying poor services and rampant graft. Demonstrators shouted: "Yes to rights! Yes to humanity! No to injustice! No to poverty! No to corruption!"
Some protesters held aloft electrical cables, water canisters and shovels to symbolise the poor services that plague Iraq. Others carried empty coffins with words plastered on them such as "democracy," "electricity," "education" and "services." Iraq suffers from electricity shortages, with power cuts multiplying during the boiling summer, poor clean water provision, widespread corruption and high unemployment. This is despite the U.S. spending $44 billion on reconstruction in Iraq, the failure of which was the subject of my book, We Meant Well.
Ally of the U.S.
Syria, America's itch up its butt de jeur in the Middle East, is suddenly full of bad people (we used to support; in 2003 when the Iraq invasion started we were still rendering prisoners to Syria to torture on our behalf) and yet another regime America has unilaterally decided must change. OK, well enough, except that reports indicate that Iranian weapons are flowing through ally Iraq into Syria, and Iraq tells the U.S. it won't stop them. What are friends for, am I right?
The ties between Iraq and Iran continue to strengthen, with Iraq serving as a money laundering stopover for sanctioned Iran, even as Iran sells electricity to Iraq (that darned failed reconstruction again). Indeed, with Iran now able to meddle in Iraq in ways it never could have with Saddam Hussein in power, the country will be more able to contest U.S.-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. The grim irony, notes Ted Galen Carpenter of the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute in an op-ed for the Washington Post, is that by invading Iraq in 2003, "the United States has paid a terrible cost -- some $850 billion and more than 4,400 dead American soldiers -- to make Iran the most influential power in Iraq."
Happy Anniversary honey, and I'll be sure to remember it on the right day next year! After all, if you don't learn from your mistakes, what's the point, right? We'll do something special next year, like maybe a trip to Tehran? Love ya!