What’s ten years and a couple trillion dollars between friends, huh?
And I mean, it’s not like anyone could have seen this coming, right?
Anyone who’s read this blog knows my thoughts, and anyone who knows me, especially those who knew me circa 2003, and most especially those who were on numerous email threads before, during and after the debacle, understand my position, which has never wavered.
I’d like to turn the mic over to some eloquent and righteous folks who serve up some enlightenment, anger and elgaic prose.
First up, this devastating letter written by Iraq war veteran Tomas Young, who is near death and full of understandable bitterness about the ways he –and many of his fellow soldiers– were misled, abused and discarded. The entire thing is mandatory reading and can be found HERE.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
The New Republic has gone to the trouble of compiling multiple posts from an array of folks, HERE.
A couple of excerpts:
And the losers? Apart from the Sunnis, whose hegemony was shattered by the force of American arms, that would be the United States. 4,487 dead, 32,223 wounded, 20 percent of whom have catastrophic brain or spinal injuries, and this is not even counting psychological injuries. A trillion dollars spent. The systematic torture of prisoners that, as we are now learning seems to have been sanctioned at the highest levels of the chain of command in Iraq. Corruption both by U.S. uniformed personnel and contractors, which, from the report of the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, seems to have existed to a degree unparalleled in American military history. And all this so we can have Maliki ruling Iraq instead of Saddam Hussein! Could anyone who supported this war today encounter a relative, spouse, or friend of one of the American soldiers who was killed or grievously injured in Iraq and tell them with a straight face that this war was worth their sacrifice?
I now see the decision to invade Iraq as cynical, tragic, immoral, and irresponsible to the point of folly. I do not think that the thousands of U.S. and allied lives lost were lost in vain: Only time can tell what Iraq will become; how the Iraqi people will look back on the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the ensuing ten years of violence; and what role Iraq will play in the larger Middle East. It is very difficult to imagine any transition from Saddam to post-Saddam without some violence and political upheaval in a nation as fractured religiously and ethnically as Iraq. But in hindsight, the U.S. decision to spend tens of billions of U.S. dollars; to ignore all knowledge, planning, and expertise about Iraq with regard to what should happen when the bullets stopped flying; and to ignore the opposition of many of our closest allies in deciding when and how to take action is virtually indefensible. And I could not in good conscience look an Iraqi widow, parent, or child in the eye and tell them that the tens of thousands of Iraqi lives lost served a larger purpose, which is a burden that every American who did not actively demonstrate against the war must carry.
I will hazard the same guess that I hazarded at the time. The members of the liberal political elite in this country were piss-down-their-legs scared of two things in 2002. First, that the next attack would land on their heads, since most of them live and work in or near what were presumed to be the primary target zones, both of which actually had been already. And second, that they would get called fifth-columnists (or worse) by the triumphalism of the incipient American imperial adventure in southwest Asia. Nobody wants to be George McGovern, after all. So they found their excuses, and they found in Kenneth Pollack somebody who would give them a Potemkin war they could support. And then they signed on with Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld and all the rest of them.
Shut up, all of you. Go away. You are complicit in one way or another in a giant crime containing many great crimes. Atone in secret. Wash the blood off your hands in private. Because there were people who got it right. Anthony Zinni. Eric Shiseki. Hans Blix. Mohamed ElBaradei. The McClatchy Washington bureau guys. Dozens of liberal academics who got called fifth-columnists and worse. Professional military men whose careers suffered as a result. Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets around the world. The governments of Canada and France. Those people, I will listen to this week. Go to hell, the rest of you, and go there in silence and in shame.
These dissenters were entirely right about the war, and nothing that has happened since then has weakened their case. The United States got several hundred thousand people killed to install a regime that may eventually prove to be as oppressive as Saddam Hussein’s, is closely allied to the Iranian government, and has proven as likely to give oil contracts to Chinese firms as to American firms. And oh yes, Iraq didn’t have “WMDs” after all—a ridiculous acronym that the administration and its supporters used to equate the possession of chemical or biological weapons with the possession of nuclear weapons.
The people who had the most familiarity with the Middle East and with the perils of war were dead set against the invasion. That includes not only the CIA analysts and the military professors, but also the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which rejected the administration’s claims that Iraq was about to acquire nuclear weapons. But they were not in a position to make their voices heard. The CIA analysts were reduced to creating this half-cocked scheme for getting a report on the far-flung future to the White House, which they hoped someone would read. The military dissenters, as we know, were silenced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz. And the State Department was ignored by the White House.
Finally, Glen Greenwald, another lonely man who stood up against the insanity all around him (then, and now for that matter), eviscerates David “Axis of Evil” Frum and his half-hearted rationalizations (and mind boggling solipsism) in a piece appropriately entitled “David Frum, the Iraq War and Oil” (guess what it’s about?). Check it out here to find out the worst-kept secret of the last decade, one way too many people saw through before the boots ever hit the ground.
There are countless other examples of people having their reputations viciously maligned for suggesting that oil was a significant factor in the US and its allies wanting to invade Iraq.
In order to minimize the role he played in helping bring about this war, Frum writes:
“People often ask me whether I have regrets. It seems absurdly presumptuous to answer the question. I could have set myself on fire in protest on the White House lawn and the war would have proceeded without me.”
As Jonathan Schwarz replied: “Yeah, there’s no way that somebody like Frum could have changed anything if he’d revealed Cheney’s deep interest in Iraqi oil. Poor David was utterly powerless.” At exactly the time that virtually all of official Washington was mocking and scorning anyone who suggested that oil was a significant factor in Washington’s designs on Iraq, Cheney and Chalabi were spending “long hours” together, “contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq” as “an additional source of oil, an alternative to US dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia”.
These people with buckets of blood on their hands and around their ankles have been saying all kinds of stuff this week (so much of it predictably self-serving), but there are two words they all should be repeating, every day for the rest of their lives: I’m sorry.