Eleven years after the war in Iraq began we continue to pay for it. My guess is that the final payment won’t be in the foreseeable future. The Bush administration relied on information that may go down as one of the biggest intelligence failures since World War II, although there have been a number of others that rival it. In this instance we had electronic capabilities that should have revealed that Saddam Hussein did not have WMD, and that Saddam was playing a bluff game with Iran, his arch enemy. Yes, he had gas and biological weapons that he used against his own people, but he always knew that to use them against Israel or the U.S. would result in his country’s annihilation.
The NSA revelations prove that our government has very substantial spying capabilities leading up to the war. It’s also hard to believe that we didn’t have a few well-placed sources on the ground in Iraq, both in their government and military, that could have shed some light on Saddam’s real game. Yet despite other American and foreign intelligence agencies warning Bush that it would be a mistake to rely on certain CIA sources, to believe that Mohammad Atta, one of the 911 ringleaders had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer when Atta was shown to be elsewhere at the same time, the administration went forward with the war. Later when Bush had to admit that there was no WMD, he said the war was worth taking out a really bad guy, that the Iraqi people could now live their lives in freedom.
This was a war in which the American people were deceived in spades. It turned out that the Congress did not receive the full intelligence report provided by Bush to demonstrate the urgency to go to war. Some representatives that voted against the first Gulf War didn’t want to be on the wrong side of that vote again and voted for the war resolution the second time. Almost 4,500 soldiers KIA, many more badly maimed for life, hundreds or more American civilians dead, six figures of Iraqi citizens killed, we have nothing of consequence to show for it. Saddam, as bad as he was, did two things: He kept the peace between the two rival religious factions, the Shiites and Sunnis, and kept the balance of power with Iran. His fall led to Iran’s rise and the potential threat to the West since they no longer have to keep a wary eye on their neighbor.
And now for the big question. Why was there never a push for congressional hearings to investigate the intelligence failures, to examine whether a blind eye was turned on two questionable sources, Ahmed Chalabi and Curveball---both who had their own agendas for pushing the U.S. to overthrow Saddam. How about the money from Iraqi oil that Dick Chaney said would pay for this multi-trillion dollar war---no need to ask what happened to that money? Where was/is the cry from Republicans to investigate some of the war profiteering? Shouldn’t there be questions asked about all the taxpayer money that went to corrupt officials in Iraq? No, instead it’s one investigation after another of Benghazi.
The Iraq War did more than cost a lot of unnecessary lives, create a religious civil war, and upend the balance of power in the Middle East. It contributed to the whopping deficits because of the Bush tax cuts and off-line budget to pay for the war. And let’s not forget the century long tail of veterans care that follows each war, a dollar amount in the trillions.
Some politicians are talking about the U.S. going back in to protect the current Maliki regime. Perhaps these folks have spent too much time on the Rocky Mountain slopes of Colorado. Are they really willing to pay the cost in blood and taxes? Where are all the Middle Eastern countries that we give countless billions to pay for military equipment and training? Do they ever use the hardware, or is it just for military parades? Isn’t this their fight in which we could contribute some intelligence and logistical support without a full commitment? Where are the war hawk voices to demand that the Iraq problem is their problem?
Contrary to what some editorialists have written, Obama did not lose the war in Iraq. Bush set the withdrawal date for all combat troops that Obama carried out. What Obama couldn’t do was to get Maliki to agree to a Status of Force Agreement providing for remaining U.S. military personnel there for training and intelligence, to be protected by U.S. laws. Obama had no choice but to withdraw all servicemen under those circumstances.
Perhaps I am a voice in the wilderness in wondering where the outrage is in our country that we give countless billions to so many countries that do little to nothing for us, but when Obama proposes spending money in the private sector to rebuild our deteriorating infrastructure, it’s called job welfare or some such. There were many in congress who voted against a 60 billion package to rebuild the devastated areas from Hurricane Sandy two years ago, money that came from taxpayers who lost their homes and more from the storm. Where are our values when it comes to taking care of our own first? Why no call for hearings on how this all happened? Could it be partisan politics instead of trying to learn from our mistakes?