Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The War That Reached Our Shores

Pres. Bush won't allow public opinion to inform, influence, or change his Iraq policy. So what else is new? The real point is that Congress won't make him (which they could easily do by cutting off funding for the war or starting impeachment proceedings).

Also, this statement has to be challenged:

"I have no doubt -- the war came to our shores. Remember that," he said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes on New York and Washington. "We had a foreign policy that basically said, 'Let's hope calm works.' And we were attacked."

Actually, no. We (meaning nine successive U.S. administrations from 1953 to the present day) had a policy of overthrowing democratically elected governments and supporting totalitarian, repressive ones. We installed, and supported for 25 years, one of the most brutal regimes in the history of the 20th century (Iran from 1953 to 1979). (And then Americans wondered at the anti-American rage we saw on our television screens as Iranians sacked the U.S. embassy when the Shah was overthrown.) We followed that by providing money and arms, as well as strategic targeting assistance, to Iran's neighbor, Iraq, in its 8-year war with Iran (at the same time that Iraq was attacking both Iranians and Iraq's Kurdish population with nerve and mustard gas, and knowing that Iraqi pinpoint targeting obtained via U.S. overflight surveillance was being used to kill tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers with that poison gas). Simultaneously with these events, the U.S. government (via that model of patriotism, Oliver North) was selling arms to the Iranians to use on Iraq, and using the proceeds from the arms sales to fund the Contras in Nicaragua who were trying to overthrow that country's democratically elected government. After supporting Saddam Hussein's savagely brutal regime for more than a decade, the United States invaded Iraq when Saddam Hussein threatened our oil supply by invading Kuwait.

But we were not finished playing poker with the lives of the tens of millions of people who had to live with the consequences of our power games: After crushing Iraq in what we call the first Persian Gulf War (for Iraq and Iran, their 8-year war with each other was the first), the U.S. administration then in power (Bush 41) slapped punitive economic sanctions on Iraq, which continued under Clinton and Bush 43 for the next decade and more. Meant to keep Saddam from re-arming, the sanctions had a devastating effect on Iraq's civilian population; between 1991 and 2003, when the sanctions were lifted, between 1.5 and 2 million Iraqis perished; half a million of those were children. The sanctions were lifted, of course, after the current administration invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein, on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had a current, operational WMD program, and that he had ties to Al Qaeda. Both claims were false. The U.S. invaded Iraq for (our) second time in March, 2003. In April, 2003, Hussein was overthrown. In May, 2003, Pres. Bush dressed up in a naval uniform and, standing on top of a naval carrier in the Persian Gulf, announced that "major combat operations" were over. Since Bush's announced "end" of the war, over 2,600 American soldiers have been killed, somewhere around 14,000 have been maimed, and -- at a very conservative minimum -- between 41,000 and 45,600 Iraqis have been killed. As horrifying as those numbers are, they cannot be taken in isolation. They must be seen in the context of all the Iraqis who were killed, wounded, and dispossessed in the previous wars -- including, most terribly, the Iran-Iraq war, in which possibly a million Iranians and Iraqis (combined) died, and millions more became refugees.

The truth is that the United States has never tried calm in its approach to the rest of the world. It may have been calm here -- but that was at the expense of the carnage and chaos and violence the United States was helping to facilitate elsewhere. And when Pres. Bush says that "the war came to our shores," he is right in a way he did not intend: The war already existed beyond our shores, in large part because of the policies the U.S. government fomented. So, yes, the war did come to our shores. It's been raging for the last 60 years, and it's finally reached our shores.

1 comment:

Steeph said...

Well said!