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Rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies © Robert Sommers 2017

Friday, March 22, 2013

Iraq Returns


I haven't done much politics this week. Guess it's time to alienate some people.

First Iraq. Perle and Wolfowitz aren't necessarily retreating but ex Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz points out that he wasn't really the war architect in Iraq anyway. In this interview with the Sunday Times, Wolfowitz says that the Iraq job was bungled, we excluded too much Iraqi leadership, and the U.S. military made some grave tactical errors.

“I don’t want to get into the finger-pointing business but we had sort of forgotten everything we’d learnt 30 years before about counterinsurgency . . . this was not the kind of war you win by overwhelming force.”

Wolfowitz called for Saddam’s overthrow during the 1991 Gulf War and was the first senior official to advise Bush, days after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, to seek regime change in Iraq. Wolfowitz denied that he was “the architect” of the Iraq invasion. “It wasn’t conducted according to my plan.”

Wolfowitz was one of the first people to call for an invasion and overthrow in Iraq, ostensibly to combat the flimsy weapons of mass destruction narrative, a thesis that proved to be both incorrect and seemingly concocted out of a false report of nigerian yellowcake uranium, if my memory serves me correctly. U.S. officials  accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, but no evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found.

When that all turned out to be hogwash, the mission turned into one of liberating the Iraqi people. Well that job has been done, we overthrew a petty tyrant of one of the few places in the middle east where a woman could go to school, wear what she wanted to wear and the mullahs and imans mostly shut up. Like Tito, Hussein presided over a religiously divided people and largely kept them from each other's throats.

Just make sure Saddam's boys had their liquor and their porn, let them conduct a few public beheadings and he largely kept to himself. What has been accomplished in 10 years in Iraq?

Financial cost (from Wiki):
The financial cost of the war has been more than £4.55 billion ($9 billion) to the UK,[337] and over $845 billion to the U.S. government. Critics have argued the total cost to the U.S. economy is estimated to be from $3 trillion [338] to $6 trillion [339], including interest rates, by 2053.
A CNN report noted that the United States-led interim government, the Coalition Provisional Authority lasting until 2004 in Iraq had lost $8.8 billion in the Development Fund for Iraq. In June 2011, it was reported by CBS News that six billion in neatly packaged blocks of $100 bills was literally air-lifted into Iraq by the George W. Bush administration, which flew it into Baghdad aboard C‑130 military cargo planes. In total, the Times says $12 billion in cash was flown into Iraq in 21 separate flights by May 2004, all of which has disappeared. An inspector general's report mentioned that "'Severe inefficiencies and poor management' by the Coalition Provisional Authority would leave no guarantee that the money was properly used", said Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., director of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. "The CPA did not establish or implement sufficient managerial, financial and contractual controls to ensure that funds were used in a transparent manner."[340] Bowen told the Times the missing money may represent "the largest theft of funds in national history."[341]
Casualties :
On 14 March 2013, Brown University released a report on their project entitled Costs of War about the Iraq War, five days before its tenth anniversary. The report only includes figures from direct war-related violence. It places total deaths of the war from during U.S. involvement at about 190,000 people. 70% of the deaths (134,000) were civilians. U.S. losses totalled 4,488 military personel and 3,400 security contractors. Coalition losses included 319 deaths. Allied Iraqi military and police suffered 10,819 deaths. Approximately 36,400 were Sadaam loyalist forces or terrorist insurgents. Figures include 62 humanitarian workers and 231 journalists.
There is a scathing open letter to Wolfowitz written by his one time deputy Andrew Bacevich that is worth reading. Bacevich seems to think that the whole war was orchestrated by Wolfie in order to attain personal power and to assert United States global power.

Wolfowitz seems to deflect these criticisms, says that the war can't be judged yet, even the returns from Korea aren't fully in as yet. He thinks that it is a mistake for "war weary" americans to not continue the charade now over in Syria. In an opinion he wrote for Fox he thinks our failure was not pursuing a counter insurgency strategy four years earlier.

Richard Perle doesn't even think it is reasonable to even ask if the invasion was worth it.

“I’ve got to say,” Perle responded, “I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say, well, we shouldn’t have done that.”

I was interviewed by the newspaper at the start of the war, at the local V.F.W. no less. In a room full of soldiers, I was quoted as saying that wars are easier to start than get out of and wondered if we knew what we were in for. Sadly Iraq today may be in a worse state than pre invasion. We have installed a Shia Iranian proxy and we are reminded of the religious civil war by the daily partisan bombings. I believe that the returns are in and that history will look upon the whole debacle as a huge waste of human and financial resources. Rather than an affirmation of American power it points out the need to restrain it and use it much more judiciously than we have in the past.

The old men plan and strategize with their foolish dreams of victory and global conquest and the young men simply die.

1 comment:

Sanoguy said...

I agree with your main points, however, I think you should have not left Cheney out of the mix. I think he was the puppeteer that really pushed Bush in to the war. The others you mentioned were big players, but not as big as Cheney. And Cheney has no regrets, no second thoughts.