Begin with American-imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, depriving families of vital medicines. Then it invaded, its “shock and awe” killing, destroying and crippling Iraq. After 10 years of war it decamped, leaving a frightful legacy of death, destruction and despair.
On the 10th anniversary of that war, America is left with the shame and stain of one of the least justifiable wars in history. It was illegal, unconstitutional and immoral.
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator but he controlled the sectarian tensions and hatred in Iraq. His eradication and the departure of Americans left the country at loggerheads: Shiites vs. Sunnis, Arabs vs. Kurds, Islamists vs. al-Qaida. The tattered country has been left with deadly suicide bombings, car bombings and other fatal attacks.
The Iraq War solved nothing.
Look at the sanctions. Children, deprived of medicines, were condemned to die an agonizing death, writhing in pain in a Baghdad hospital without pain relievers. As a British nurse recalled: “The kids were wasted by water-borne diseases, the fluids ran out of their bodies and left them appearing like withered, spoiled fruit.”
The war toll is horrendous: 4,500 American killed and 30,000 wounded. Those who survived suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Hundred of thousands of Iraqis were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Cost to U.S. taxpayers $2.2 trillion, rising to about $4 trillion in interest on borrowed money.
All for nought. It just made the Arab World abhor America.
President G.W. Bush and his evil Vice President Cheney are war criminals. Yet Cheney and other architects of the war constantly appear on TV to defend their wrong-headedness.
The U.N. charter, ratified by the United States, makes it clear: the U.N. Security Council must authorize war. The council refused to do so. Why? The only reason the council approves of wars is self-defense. Self-defense was non-existent in Iraq.
Instead, Bush, Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell presented enormous lies, including one claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. As the New York Times pointed out in an editorial: “The war was based on faulty intelligence manipulated for ideological reasons.”
Moreover, you cannot blame the war on warmongers Bush and Cheney and their fellow Republicans alone. Democrats in Congress overwhelming passed the resolution authorizing use of military force. The Constitution clearly specifies a declaration of war.
Marjorie Cohn of the online Reader Supported News notes that Cheney’s secret energy task force included a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals. It also contained “charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas and foreign seekers of Iraqi oil contracts.” The date of the document: six months before 9/11.
Readers will understandably conclude: the war was all about oil.
Without a draft, war fever is easy. Relatively few Americans suffer the consequences. And most of those who do — the poor, the blacks and Latinos —see the military as a way to gain occupational skills while having free food and housing along with decent pay.
In its drive for global hegemony, the United States has much to feel guilty about, from deadly agent orange in Vietnam, senseless and secret bombing in Cambodia and all the unnecessary U.S. wars in between.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.