Now is the time to support Iraq, but support is waning
Poll: USA is losing patience on Iraq
Recent polls show that support for an America presence in Iraq is dropping, and more and more American's don't feel that the war was worth it. The result is increased calls to pull American troops out of Iraq.
Though I have been opposed to this war all along, mostly because the Bush administration was being dishonest and manipulative in its campaign of deception to sell the war, the fact now is that American troops are there and the US has devastated the countr. We now have an obligation to see this through and clean things up.
There is a well-known saying that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Well, basically, at this point, we have gone into Iraq and broken a bunch of eggs. We should at least try to make the omelet and not just leave raw egg splattered all over the ground.
I don't agree with President Bush on much, but I do agree with his recent statement that we need to see this project through to the end in order for the sacrifices of the 1,700 dead Americans and the tens of thousands of dead Iraqis to be worth it.
The fact that 6 in 10 people now support full withdrawal from Iraq means that many of the people who supported the war initially must now be in support of removing troops.
I remember the run-up to war very clearly, and I remember all the cheerleaders who were gung-ho to send American troops into harms way. The taste for blood was big in early 2003, but no surprise, now even the warmongers and right-wingers want to pull out and leave.
We created the mess, now it's our responsibility to clean it up. We will probably need to invest another $500 billion into Iraq to make it a fair deal for killing all those people and destroying their country. Probably many more Americans will have to die as well.
This is why people like myself opposed the war in the first place, and called for more details from the President on both the justification for war and a plan for reconstruction. There were many people in 2002 and early 2003 plainly stating that there was no evidence that the regime of Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat, and that the intelligence didn't support the idea that Iraq was an immediate threat.
We did have time to explore better options, we did have time to make better plans, we did have time to let Hans Blix finish his job, we did have time to build a better coalition, but no, instead the Bush administration, and his loyal supporters in the public, rallied behind the calls to war.
The fact is that some people supported the war only because they liked the idea of bombing the Middle Eastern people and they thought that it was cool to see American weaponry in action.
I remember it well. I remember having conversations at work, in the gym, and even on the internet, with people whose attitude was: “bomb them back to the stone ages!”, “turn Iraq into a parking lot and let Exxon take it over!”, or simply “nuke'em!”.
There were also the cases of watching CNN or FOX coverage of battlefield action and bombing and hearing the remarks of people saying “Hell yeah!”, “badass!”, or possibly, “holy fuck we just blew the shit out of those bastards!”
Ahh yes, but where is the excitement now? Now it's a steady stream of American body bags getting shipped home from deaths by roadside bombs. Not too exciting anymore, so now some of the warmongers want to pack up the troops and come home.
Now that the focus has shifted to security and reconstruction people no longer think war is fun. Too bad, we are in it for the long haul now.
It was cool watching the "Shock and Awe" on CNN two years ago, but it's not so "cool" anymore is it? Nah, now its a "quagmire", and now people realize that it's not a video game, it's real American boys and girls dying every day in a dirty stinking desert, and now it doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore.
Is anyone currently in doubt that we could have made better progress at a lower cost without going to war?
Ironically, even based on what the architects of the war have said, “just” liberating the Iraqi people isn't worth going to war over. This is what Paul Wolfowitz said in a May 2003 interview with Vanity Fair:
The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but… there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one, which is the connection between the first two[.]
The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we've arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his UN presentation.
So, even according to one of the primary drivers of the Iraq War, liberating the Iraqi people isn't worth American lives, yet that is really all that this war can be about now.
Now, the worst part is over. Now, tens of thousands have already been killed, and the bulk of the damage has been done.
Why throw away $200+ billion spent and the lives of thousands to let a country get taken over by terrorists, the terrorists that "WE" invited there.
This is "our" mess, so we are going to have to stay in to clean it up.
Maybe, just MAYBE, if the American people would actually EMBRACE the Iraqi people and form a real bond, and do some real help, and take the Iraqis into our hearts and minds, and try to actually help them (which, in reality, I do think that Bush is trying to do right now) we could actually win a real friend and partner in the Middle East, help a new country establish democracy, and make progress against terrorism and make the world a better place.
What this entire endeavor in Iraq has lacked, is a real embrace of the Iraqi people by Americans and the world. Not to parrot the Bush administration, but now really is not the time to pull out or leave the Iraqi's hanging out to dry. Real and genuine deep solidarity is needed between the people of America and Iraq. We need real displays of support for the Iraqi people.
This war was entered into for selfish reasons, of that there is no doubt. Americans backed the war because of what they felt were American interests, we didn't enter into this war to help a foreign country, but that is where we are today. The only thing we can salvage from this is helping a foreign country, so let's do it.
At the very least Americans could take off the obnoxious American Flag bumper stickers from their car and put on joint Iraqi and American flag stickers. I see everyone with ribbons on their cars supporting various causes from the Troops, to America, to AIDS, to this or that. I have yet to see ONE single ribbon supporting the people of Iraq.
If Americans are so gung-ho to spread freedom and democracy around the world, then where is the sense of international brotherhood? Where is the feeling that existed after World War II, of a bond with the nations that we liberated?
I haven't met anyone, not even the biggest supporters of the war, who talks fondly about the Iraqis or who expresses hope for them. Regardless of whatever else Bush is doing or has done, pretty much of all of which I disagree with, at least he is expressing moral support for the Iraqi people, but the sad thing is, he's pretty much the only one in the country doing it.
I think that the time is now to get behind this effort, to support the American troops, and to support the military effort on the ground in Iraq and most of all, to really, and truly support the Iraqi people. I think that troop strength should actually be increased in Iraq right now, not reduced. It's going to take a sacrifice, indeed it will. Perhaps some might even view that sacrifice as atonement for American ills of the past.
This situation is not like Vietnam, in that the Vietnamese people did not want or need Americas in Vietnam. The Vietnamese war was a war of the Vietnamese people for independence from colonial French rule. They had a leader and a government that was widely supported by the people, they just wanted us out. They faced no foreign or terrorist threat. In Iraq, however, there is support for American help in containing the violence and establishing security, and if we leave, they do face a threat of violence from people who want to overturn the elected government and who will kill civilians. We do have an obligation to face down this threat and help to rebuild Iraq.
Bush isn't going to be in office forever, nor will Republicans and the architects of the war remain in power. However, we can form a deep and lasting bond with the Iraqi people that will live beyond this administration.