While the death of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il last week took the end of the Iraq War and the official farewells off the front pages, President Barack Obama marked the end of the war in a ceremony this week.
We declared victory in Iraq and departed after more than eight years. We left a few thousand troops to pick up the pieces. The combat troops are gone, but a few are holding the fort to train the Iraqi troops to fight against any remaining opposition and to guard against any possible leadership struggle that may occur.
(By the way, we still have troops in Germany, Japan and Korea left over from World War II and the Korean War.)
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the war was not in vain. Tell that to the families who lost their loved ones, the maimed and wounded who have lost limbs, and those mentally traumatized as a result of killing strangers on order, commands which came from those safely on high.
Former President George W. Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003, dropping bombs on Baghdad. He has yet to give an honest reason for the war, but it is evident he wanted to be known as a war president.
Bush claimed that then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The claim was not true. Bush resisted U.N. appeals to allow a last inspection.
Mission accomplished, Bush said – prematurely, of course. But we should ask, “What was the mission?” Obama said we are leaving behind democracy and transparency.
Bush is home in Texas claiming his only mistake was not finding the weapons. What price glory?
Remember the propaganda in the lead up to the war? The war was to last for two weeks, and Iraqis were to shower the troops with flowers and candy. They did, until they realized the American troops were not liberators, but occupiers.
Obama, who followed Bush in the White House, had one chance to pull out of Iraq the day after he took over the presidency. At that time, he was very popular and he could have moved boldly to end the wars. Instead, he chose a losing policy.
The war toll for American servicemembers includes 4,700 dead and tens of thousands wounded. The American people have been passive to fact that thousands of men and women who have gone half way around the world to fight Iraqis – none of whom were involved in the 9-11 attacks.
Hussein was anathema to the United States and Israel, who targeted him as public enemy number one. Following Israel’s footsteps, we have now turned our attention to Iran and its plans to become a nuclear power.
The financial cost of the war is estimated to be somewhere between $800 billion and $1 trillion.
We are leaving Iraq not with a bang but a whimper.
To this day, no authority has told us the truth about why we attacked Iraq to begin with. Take your pick: Could it have been avenging daddy (in this case, the Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush), big oil (which Iraq has in abundance), or U.S. strategic interest in Iraq?
Was it worth the sacrifices made by the American people?
We have a presidential election coming up next November. Shouldn’t our next President tell us why, the next time they decide to start a war? The American people have a right to know. Presidential candidates should finally tell us the truth.
We paid too high of a price for our ignorance this time around.