The Iraq War Fiasco
It’s November 1st. Next week voters will go to the polls and decide what to do with the current Congress and Senate. As politicians and their surrogates run from coast to coast stumping for their various candidates, the voters are inundated by sound bites and policy speeches, think-tank professionals, and talk-show hosts. And, according to every poll, the greatest angst of the American electorate is the war in Iraq.
The news from Iraq is not good. This last month a hundred American soldiers were killed—the greatest monthly number since the war began. The insurgency is admittedly in charge of Anbar Province west of Baghdad, and, after a concerted effort, American forces have been unable to secure the streets of Baghdad. Furthermore, a month after British forces left a large part of southern Iraq, towns in the region have fallen into sectarian bloodletting—this time among Shiite groups. And if that weren’t bad enough, this fiasco is costing the American taxpayer more than a billion dollars per week. To put that in perspective, the money spent in one month in Iraq could fix the Social Security problem in America. The money America spends in a couple of months in Iraq could fund a Manhattan style hi-tech energy development program to free us from our dependence on foreign oil, create hundreds if not thousands of high paying technical jobs, and enable us to begin cleaning up the CO2 contamination of our atmosphere that the National Academy of Sciences has said is fueling global warming.
But what about the prospects for turning the Iraq war effort around? As the pundits and experts talk around each other with thoughtful pronouncements on troop levels, Iraq army and police training strategies, and fears of creating a terrorist stronghold if we leave Iraq, the conversation seems strangely inept. Just like the faulty reasoning, lack of preparation, and ideological machinations that were endemic to the beginning of this misadventure, the confusion continues. Why not ask the real questions that are at the heart of this disaster? First, who are we supporting in Iraq? Second, is it possible to “win” militarily in Iraq? Third, does our staying in Iraq have anything to do with the final outcome when we are eventually forced to leave, either because we have run up the deficit to intolerable levels, or we have worn out our once great military on a mission that was, by its very nature, impossible?
A Recent British Military poll was taken in Iraq and found that 82% of Iraqis want Americans out of Iraq. If that weren’t bad enough, the same poll found that 49% of Iraqis thought it was okay to kill Americans. This is the attitude of the Iraqi public after four years of war, 2,800 American soldiers killed, 20,000 American soldiers and personnel injured, half very seriously injured, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, according to a study by Johns Hopkins. Given all that, who is our enemy in Iraq right now—who are we fighting for? When our soldiers hit the streets in Baghdad, who are they putting their lives on the line for? They are defending the government of Iraq headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the same al-Maliki whose main supporter is Mugtada al-Sadr, the head of the Mahdi Army—the black-clad group of killers responsible for much of the Shiite death squad activity in Bahgdad. Our soldiers are stuck in the middle of a civil war where both sides are decidedly against any discernible American interest. Which begs the question: what are we trying to accomplish in Iraq right now?