You would have to be living in a cave if you haven’t heard about the atrocities involving US soldiers and Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. While it isn’t yet known if the torture of the prisoners has resulted in more than a few deaths, I can imagine this is the start of a vicious cycle quite like the debacle in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. You kill one of mine. I kill two of you. And on and on, back and forth it goes on for ever. It gets to a point for the lay person that no one side is better than the other.
I have that same problem now between the Democrats and the Republicans. There is sufficient evidence that the Clinton administration dropped the ball on keeping track of Osama bin Laden. The 9/11 disaster could have been prevented if our “intelligence” community had actually done their job. And surprise, surprise, it’s that same intelligence gathering agency that delivered the raison d’etre to “liberate” Iraq; claiming that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction. Did Saddam Hussein use nerve gas on the Kurds living in Northern Iraq? Of course he did. But whether these WMD’s existed at all or in quantities that the CIA (or our old friend Ahmad Chalabi) suggested is seriously doubtful. So there goes our excuse for even being in the area. Was Hussein a brutal dictator who wreaked havoc in people’s lives? Absolutely. But have we forgotten Indonesia’s Suharto and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il? You haven’t seen the US making a bee line to those countries have you? So, why depose one dictator you have been supporting all along and neglect the others? It seems way too convenient.
There has to be another reason for being out there in Iraq. To most of us, with our mortgages, our soccer practices and our backyard barbecues, “out there” is so far away that we couldn’t give a hoot about it. But I wonder if Americans, with their gas guzzling SUV’s or eighteen-wheeled trucks, who have to deal with already escalating gas prices will wake up from their stupor and take some action. For some being in Iraq IS taking that action – ensuring that oil prices are controlled less by OPEC and more by Americans. Is this cynical or conspiratorial? I think not. Neo conservatives will claim that rising gas prices will cause the world’s greatest economy to falter. When the US economy sputters, the rest of the world feels the pain too. That we are intricately tied to one another is pretty clear. The question in my mind is, at what point does our agenda for a free, prosperous, democratic life impinge on the lives of others living in this world with us? And at what point does that effect on other countries and people ripple right back to us?
Check the gas prices lately? They are going up, not down as one would have expected. Why you ask? Well, the Bush administration is clearly mucking things up in Iraq. The Americans do not have a handle on the insurgency. The administration’s efforts are spiraling out of control to a point where the June 30 hand-off to a yet unnamed presumably “democratic” group will really have to be called a “retreat” in the world’s history books. The confidence and limited supply of trust the Middle East heaps on the US has made it very difficult to succeed. Already our actions in the region have triggered a ghastly bombing in Madrid. Which city in the world will be next? The few countries that joined the US (called the “coalition”) are starting to back paddle and exit Iraq, a country they had little to do with in the first place. Even Secretary of State and former General in the US Army, Colin Powell has made remarks suggesting his misgivings towards the war in Iraq.
Let’s be sure there is a broader definition of the war in Iraq as opposed to the war against terrorism. The Bush administration has attempted unsuccessfully to marry both wars. It’s unconvincing and in the minds of those who have lost family and friends in the 9/11 disaster, it should wholly unforgivable. While I have great respect for those who honorably serve in the armed forces, I have nothing but disdain for politicians and their ilk whose sole aim is to push an agenda that is disruptive to world peace. Almost 800 men and women have died serving in the US army. Untold number of people have died in Iraq and other places where US agenda has prevailed.
Years from now when the political spectrum has shifted we will have to reassess and rethink our international policies. Or, perhaps we need to do it now.