Debatable Opinions; Letters to the Editor
A writer to the Chicago Tribune is very upset with an editorial by The Tribune which states, “If Iraq turns out to be a force for freedom and moderation in that crucial but troubled region, as now seems likely, it will mark an American foreign policy triumph that rivals the rebuilding of Japan and Germany after World War II.”
I don’t blame the letter writer for being upset with the Tribune. I am, however, amazed at what upsets the writer.
To call our involvement in Iraq a “triumph” of any kind is to insult any and all people who were injured on account of the unwarranted and illegal US invasion. Anyone who received a paper cut because of the US invasion to those hundreds of thousands of people who died due to the invasion were not wounded because of some morally defensible action by The US. All of the people who exited their homeland did not leave because Americans landed in Iraq to free them and rebuild their nation. The billions of dollars worth of damage to Iraq’s infrastructure and architecture didn’t happen while Americans were busy “rebuilding” the country. How could anything that The US “accomplished” in Iraq be a triumph?
It’s unconscionable to pat ourselves on the back because we helped in getting Iraq’s electricity up and running again or because we helped to rebuild bridges or roads or schools if we were the ones who destroyed it all in the first place. That we should help rebuild Iraq goes without saying.
Bob Woodward told 60 Minutes that he references Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn Rule” in his book Plan Of Attack. According to Woodward, Powell had previously warned Bush, who, as we know now, probably learned about the invasion of Iraq on the night he was to announce it to the American people, that “if you break it, you own it”. The only reason why The US has to rebuild Iraq is because the US broke it with its illegal invasion.
The possibility that any kind of American triumph can be extracted from our involvement in Iraq ended at the moment that The Regime started floating rumors that we may invade Iraq. A great many of us knew that the rumors were being floated by The Regime and those rumors, along with the stories of possible Iraqi offensives against The US, which may come “in the form of a mushroom cloud”, were outright silly. Hans Blitz and Scott Ritter, two men who had actually spent time in Iraq inspecting the country with the intention of determining if Iraq was engaging in illegal activities as described by UN resolutions, had already concluded that Saddam Hussein had not made any headway in advancing major offensive systems which may have been a threat to, not only The US, but its neighbors.
Of course, this is not what The Regime wanted to hear and it certainly was not what The Regime was about to tell the American people.
The writer, as mentioned, isn’t angry that The Tribune’s editorial refers to our involvement in Iraq as possibly one of the great US triumphs. What the writer of the letter is miffed at is the fact that, as wrongheaded as The Tribune’s conclusion is, it didn’t go far enough in praising George W. Bush and noting that, “in hindsight (Bush) now turns out to be a visionary.”
The Regime took advantage of what happened on September 11, 2001 to convince Americans, blinded by hate toward the Arab world, that 9/11=Arab=anyone who lives in The Middle East=Iraq=Saddam Hussein. At the time, making that hate induced connection wasn’t difficult. After all, if you commit a crime against Americans, especially if your skin isn’t the color of most Americans or if your language uses another alphabet, America will declare war upon people with whom Americans can link you. Get that? Granted, the people with whom criminals can be linked may have nothing to do with the criminals or their crimes. Yet, Americans have no problem making the convenient connection and going from there.
Where Americans go may be wrong or immoral or baseless or unjustifiable, but don’t tell them. After all, Americans don’t make mistakes and, even if they do, the people about whom they were mistaken needed the mistake. Even though Americans made a colossal mistake which killed many civilians and destroyed much of a nation, they can find a silver lining.
Sure there were no weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, America freed Iraqis from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. There would be no more Hussein run torture chambers. They would be replaced by torture chambers run by the American military.
America also “gave” Iraq democracy, as if democracy was something that could be wrapped up and placed under the Christmas tree. I submit that people have to yearn for democracy and be willing to die so that those they leave behind can live in a democratic society. I submit that’s the only way that any nation can move from tyranny to democracy. The people have to want it; the people have to initiate the change; the people have to implement it. Democracy cannot be given to anyone and it certainly can’t be forced upon anyone from the barrel of a gun.
Cheney said that Iraq was in cahoots with Al Qaeda in planning and carrying out 9/11. I believe that Cheney knew who planned and carried out 9/11. That being as it may, Cheney was right. There was a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The connection was that the people who supposedly carried out 9/11 and the citizens of Iraq are, in general, Arabs, Middle Easterners and Muslims. Those were the only connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq.
Meeting in Prague be damned, the fact that they could all be referred to as Arabs was all the connection the vast majority of Americans needed. They carried out 9/11. Arabs, seen one; seen ‘em all. Hate 19 of ‘em; hate ‘em all. Kill one for vengeance; kill ‘em all for vengeance.
What The Tribune forgot in its editorial and what the writer of the letter forgets in spades is that intentionally killing the wrong people cannot result in triumph. There is not now, nor could there ever be anything triumphant about what we’ve done in and to Iraq and what we’ve done to the Iraqis.
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