While it was unfortunately based on lies, this past week marked the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War. (Or, as I refer to it “the worst foreign policy decision in our country’s history.”) Obviously I was never a fan of George W. Bush or his ill-fated and likely illegal war, one that many predict we will be paying for in one form or another for the next six or seven decades. (Is that all?)
Of the trillions we will have spent in Iraq, one out of every three dollars was swallowed in corruption and much of the rest poorly spent. We rebuilt the country while our infrastructure at home is falling apart. Brilliant.
It is reported that during the war there were 115,000 Iraqi civilians killed, 70 percent of whom were women and children. 4,500 American GIs died, while 32,000 Americans soldiers were seriously wounded. Meanwhile, Bush and his friends are playing golf at the fanciest country clubs in the nation.
Curiously, Bush and Co. seem hesitant to go to Europe. This may be because of Chile’s former dictator General Augusto Pinochet. With U.S. help, in 1973 Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected President Salvador Allende and ruled the country brutally.
But in 1988, while on a trip to Europe, Augusto was suddenly indicted for human rights violations by a Spanish magistrate and arrested in London. In 2000 he was finally returned to Chile where he was arrested again and died in 2006. Put it this way, I doubt Bush will be vacationing in Majorca anytime soon.
This week it dawned on me that in almost half of my adult life we’ve been at war. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan make 27 years. If war is hell we must love hell. Google “military history of the United States.” It’s not a pretty picture, unless you’re a defense contractor in which case you’re probably smiling.
It appears that every 20 years we have a big war and every other year we have a smaller one. But why?
Forget the lies politicians like LBJ and Bush have fed us to whip the country into war frenzy. Consider how much money there is in war for what Dwight Eisenhower called, the “Military-Industrial-Complex.” And that goes even more so for the GOP’s Iraq War. (57.5 percent of all democrats in Washington voted against the Iraq War while 97.5 percent of all republicans voted for it.)
Personally, the most painful aspect of the Iraq War is that we obviously didn’t learn a thing in Vietnam. Once again, we invaded a country with a culture we didn’t understand. Bush famously whined about the endless fighting in Iraq between Shias and Sunnis, “I don’t get it, they’re all Muslims, aren’t they?”
Vietnam divided the U.S. and all but destroyed a generation of young men from mostly working class backgrounds. And yet, last week in Congress, Tea Bagger Louie Gohmert advocated more wars and suggested that had we stayed in Vietnam longer, we could have achieved victory. I almost choked on my coffee.
In addition to the shameful and unnecessary loss of life in Iraq, from which many survivors will likely seek revenge and align with terrorists, is the budget busting economics. It’s estimated by numerous economists, including Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz that the Iraq War will cost $5 trillion after we factor in the lifetime health care of thousands of wounded GIs.
But in Congress, especially in the Tea Party, what’s bankrupting the country are food stamps, nutrition programs for grade school children and pre-natal care for pregnant women living in poverty. The fact is every night 50 million Americans go to bed hungry and yet we always have money for bombs and soldiers. That is unless a GI gets seriously wounded.
A vet filing for disability in L.A. or New York waits over 600 days to even have his or her claim reviewed. In Chicago it’s 560 days. Shame on us.
On MSNBC Friday there will be a 1-hour documentary, “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War.” Especially if you don’t agree with me, I beseech you to watch. Admittedly it’s infuriating to hear Dick Cheney say, “there can be no doubt that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction;” or Donald Rumsfeld, “We not only know they have WMDs we know exactly where they are;” or Condoleeza Rice, “We can’t let the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud.”
There’s even Sen. John McCain spouting, “Our troops will be greeted as liberators” and “the war will be easy.” Easy? How do these clowns even show their faces in public? (In Japan they would have committed hari-kari.) And, while our veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 18 per day, Bush charges $150,000 a speech. What a country.
So please watch “Hubris” and feel free to get angry. Otherwise someday soon we’ll be in another pointless and unnecessary war and 10 years later we’ll all be wondering why. Except the defense contractors who will be smiling.
“Hubris: Selling the Iraq War” will air on MSNBC at 6 p.m., followed by a 1 hour panel discussion. Jack can be reached at email@example.com.