Wednesday night I was surfing the Internet for the latest about Brett Favre when I inadvertently came across President Obama’s claim that U.S. combat troops would leave Iraq by the end of August. Encouraging news but couldn’t Obama have included a Favre update? Let’s face it, he could use the ratings boost.
Obama’s comment caused me to reflect back. Remember Donald Rumsfeld’s prediction that the war “would certainly last no more than six months.” Next spring will be eight years. That’s longer than our involvement in WWI and WWII combined! Safe to say that no one is going to confuse Rumsfeld and Nostradamus.
Next May will also mark eight years since Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech. Who can forget Bush’s jet landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln? What was that? Little man complex?
The landing wasted $1 million, which, of course, was a drop in the proverbial bucket. The Bush administration “lost” $8.7 billion in Iraq. The official excuse was that they “didn’t have time to write the expenditures down.” No wonder Bush giggled so much.
Say this for George, regrets aren’t in his makeup. Of course, neither was pronouncing “nuclear.” It got so that when I went to say “nuclear” I had to think which was the correct pronunciation and which was Bush’s version.
I wrote numerous columns in opposition to the war, which weren’t exactly greeted warmly. I got e-mails calling me a “knee-jerk liberal,” a “Commie,” and a “traitor,” and those weren’t even the worst.
One reader suggested that all my columns were good for was as toilet paper. When I wrote back that I wasn’t interested in his hygiene habits he threatened to forward my column to Rush Limbaugh. What was Rush gonna do, sit on me?
Among those whom I may have offended with my anti-war rhetoric was Doug McIntyre, the conservative talk-show host of “Red Eye Radio” on KABC. Maybe “offended” is flattering myself. “Annoyed” might be more accurate.
McIntyre, a very knowledgeable guy, strongly supported the war, as did his listeners. It drove me nuts to tune in expecting “Dodger Talk” (also on KABC) and hear a steady war drumbeat. Some folks just love their wars, often those who never served.
Occasionally I would get so infuriated that I had to phone in myself. There’s nothing like being on hold to a radio talk show for 45 minutes to highlight that you need a life. Over the phone I heard endless commercials for tires and mattresses while waiting to say something that would have absolutely no effect on anybody or anything.
Eventually, McIntyre asked that I stop e-mailing because I was “too emotional.” Perhaps I was. I still think the Iraq war may ultimately be the worst foreign policy mistake in our country’s history. (Other than that, it’s no big deal.) In any event, I recently decided to see if McIntyre had changed his views.
“I very much regret supporting the war in Iraq, “ McIntyre wrote in a return e-mail. “Saddam was marketed as a threat to us which turned out not to be true. I trusted Colin Powell, Tony Blair and the president of the United States and they blew it. And I blew it.” I have to give McIntyre an “A” for candor. No comment on Powell, Blair and Bush.
In looking back, we ought to ask who benefited from the Iraq war? For starters there’s Exxon and BP. Yes folks, the same BP that just finished destroying the Gulf of Mexico was awarded, along with Exxon, the refining contracts for hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of Iraqi oil. What an amazing coincidence. The military shed the blood, the taxpayers coughed up the money, and Exxon and BP reaped the profits. That’s some setup.
Other Iraq war beneficiaries included Haliburton, KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown and Root) and Xe Services (formerly Blackwater Worldwide.) All made out like bandits. By the way, Erik Prince, the reclusive former CEO of Xe, complained bitterly that he was forced to sell the company because of lawsuits, criminal investigations and negative publicity. Aw.
Among the endless tragedies of the Iraq war is the irony that that by removing Saddam we propelled Iran, whom Bush included in the “axis of evil,” into the dominant power in the region. Iranians were terrified of Hussein who had waged war on them for eight years. (Instead of bombing Iran, I’d like to send them the bill for the Iraq invasion and occupation.)
This October will mark nine years we’ve been at war in Afghanistan. It would seem that there are better ways to spend $3 trillion, but what do I know?
Two paramount questions remain: will we ever get completely out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and will Brett Favre retire? If history is any judge, Favre’s playing football this season is probably the safer bet.
Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.