by Ross Nelson
There are times when the very stones cry out. Cal Thomas’ Nov. 26 column on Iraq war objectives achieved is one of those times. He approvingly cites from retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey’s memo that America is on the verge of victory in Iraq. Thomas’ glee is in lockstep with that of other neoconservatives who see the current quieter Iraq war as justification for America’s invasion. But just what are they pleased about?
McCaffrey lists what he thinks are the United States’ objectives about to be achieved in Iraq: the withdrawal of a majority of U.S. soldiers within three years, an Iraq not at war with its neighbors nor at open civil war between the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds, and an Iraqi government able to govern effectively. In short, essentially what Iraq had before we attacked it in 2003.
The following is what we now call victory. Well over 4,000 Americans have died in the war with 32,000 other casualties and counting; there are anywhere from 100,000 to 700,000 dead Iraqis, wounded unknown; approximately 2 million (some estimate 4 million) Iraqis internally displaced or refugees in other nations; a generation of Iraqi children that is traumatized, semi-starved and bereaved; and what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimates will be a $3 trillion (with a “t”) bill for us to pay in the long run.
Let’s not dwell on other items such as President George W. Bush using the war as an excuse to wipe his feet on the Constitution as America applauded, or that our actions inflamed much of the Muslim world even more than before. All this, just to end up trying to put Iraq back to where it was before the war. Such a deal.
Even the surge that supposedly partly pacified Iraq is part sham. Violence dropped in large measure because ethnic cleansing finally did its work in Iraq. A satellite study of Baghdad shows that the Sunni population has been largely erased from its neighborhoods. (This cleansing is yet another feature of our war on Iraq.) Already before the surge, Sunnis had begun turning away from fighting – doubtless because of heavy casualties from both U.S. forces and the dominant Shiite militias – but also because they finally rejected al-Qaida’s random slaughter of Iraqis. We also got smart and started bribing Sunni insurgents to not fight.
Saddam’s wars were no excuse for our attack either. He got the green light for war against Kuwait from both our ambassador to Iraq and a State Department assistant secretary of state. Not that that excuses his aggression. Who did he think he was, making war before trying peaceful means – President Bush?
And of course Saddam went to war with Iran with our full support, aid and intelligence. We can’t condemn him there because we were his accomplices.
Thomas isn’t finished with his nonsense yet. In the same column, he asserts the most extraordinarily un-Christian, unthinking opinion imaginable about Iraq’s horrible suffering: “If a stable Iraq results and serves as a bulwark against terrorism and terrorist states, it may turn out to have been worth it.” Worth it for whom? By what right does Thomas and his tribe presume to visit war upon countries and peoples who never threatened us? Does he really think that we’re justified in fighting a war against a second party (in this case al-Qaida) that we helped introduce on the third party’s territory? If he has any moral imagination left, he should contemplate how America might like being a battleground between two foreign entities.
The love of war has completely washed Thomas’ mind of reason and empathy. Only thus can his column be explained.
Nelson is a Fargo postal worker and regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary pages.