Doing everything wrong in Iraq
President George W. Bush started down the wrong path in March 2003 by jumping into a war in Iraq based on dubious intelligence and his personal distaste for Saddam Hussein, and he has steadfastly followed it ever since. His latest ploy to justify his attack on Iraq is that it is to bring democracy to the Middle East and end the threat of terrorism. When we entered World War I, President Wilson called it a war to end all wars and make the world safe for democracy. We all know how well that worked.
In his zeal to go after Saddam, Bush insulted and alienated those who dared to disagree with him, especially France and Germany. He declared the United Nations useless, and told the world the United States was willing to go it alone. Now that that isn’t working, he is trying to get those he insulted to come to our rescue and help bail us out of the mess he got us into.
By invading and occupying a Muslim country he has succeeded in antagonizing Muslims throughout the world. Furthermore, he went to war with no realistic plan for how to proceed after displacing Saddam. By disbanding the Iraqi army, with inadequate forces to take its place, he left the Iraqi people to the mercy of looters, terrorists, and armed militias. Now, when the situation seems to be getting totally out of hand, he is desperately trying at the last minute to reconstruct a police force using (guess who) the former Iraqi army.
Next he antagonized Shiites, whom we were counting on to be our friends in Iraq, by announcing that our objective was to capture or kill radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr ” a position from which he has since had to back off. Most recently, he has let the Iraqis know that the transfer of power which he promised for June 30 won’t exactly be a “transfer of power.” Instead, the interim Governing Council will have very limited authority, with the U.S. military government calling most of the shots.
Bush has further antagonized the Muslim world by sanctioning Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s plan to expand several illegal Israeli settlements in what the United Nations had designated as the Palestinian West Bank, in exchange for withdrawing from some others. In addition, Bush supported Sharon’s refusal to allow Palestinian refugees driven from their homes by the Israelis to return to their homeland.
It is becoming increasingly clear from what is going on in Iraq that the Bush administration seems to be making it up as it goes along, without thinking through the consequences of its actions, all the while sending young Americans out to die or be crippled.
The upshot of all of this is that the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and company have destroyed our nation’s credibility throughout the world, and have reduced the United States from being the most respected country in the world to the most hated.
And the failure of our government to take immediate action to prevent the long-standing abuse of Iraqi prisoners by our military has further increased that hatred.
And here at home, Bush has spent approaching $200 billion on his war with Saddam, a drain on the American economy which is slated to continue at the rate of $5 billion a month indefinitely into the future. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has stated that these huge budget deficits threaten the nation’s long-term economic stability, and warned that a “day of reckoning” will come. The needs of this country, like child care, health care, education, transportation, and possibly even Social Security, are being subverted to finance an unjustified war, and one which is unwinnable if we continue to do everything wrong.
Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column appears every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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