Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
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MARCH 23, 2010 2:26PM

Seven Years' War: Our Iraq Anniversary

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Health care is the big f'in deal today (and good on ya, Joe Biden), but there exists other news in the world. Two other big events happened last weekend, and they deserve a mention, too: the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and a huge march on Washington for immigration reform. I'll tackle the second in a separate post, probably tomorrow, because I have a lot to say about it. Now, though, let's talk about the little war that couldn't end.

Yes, "just" seven years ago, there was this:

WASHINGTON, Thursday, March 20— President Bush ordered the start of a war against Iraq on Wednesday night, and American forces poised on the country's southern border and at sea began strikes to disarm the country, including an apparently unsuccessful attempt to kill Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday night, about 45 minutes after the first attacks were reported against an installation in Baghdad where American intelligence believed Mr. Hussein and his top leadership were meeting. ''On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war,'' the president said.

Seven years, nearly 100,000 deaths, and more than $700 billion later, where are we? On course for some kind of withdrawal in 2011 and having just completed a contested election that could leave Iraq more closely allied with Iran than with the U.S. Yes, I feel safer.

Anthony Shadid has a nice meditation on the meaning of voting, and of the new Iraq, in the New York Times. He writes:
For many people calloused by the breathtaking carnage of 2006 and 2007, Iraq today seems a far more peaceful place. The war indeed may be over, at least the conflict for communal survival. But today’s far more ambiguous political struggle, perhaps no less dangerous, is still ordered by the sentiments that propelled intercommunal killing.

This will continue. The violence of 2006 and 2007 happened in large part between U.S. forces and Iraqi insurgents, some of them part of Moktada Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Sadr's followers seem to have taken the majority of seats in the mostly-Shiite Iraqi National Alliance in the recent elections, holding a block second only to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's party. This means that every thin possible hope the American government had at the beginning of the war toward creating a Western-friendly Iraq has now been dashed: the country is set to be ruled by the prime minister, who wants closer cooperation with Iran, and the Sadrist-led INA, who will cheer for nothing more than the expulsion of Americans from the country.

The legacy of the Iraq War is still to be written, but some lessons are already pouring in. Strategy cannot be ignored in favor of operational or tactical considerations. What are we doing there? What is our goal? What could have been done differently? What could we still do?

Why can't we answer these questions, seven years later?

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I wish I could find any meaning or any redeeming value in it. It was one of the biggest, worst, costliest blunders and stupid dumb-fuck moves in the history of bad U.S. Foreign policy.
Hey, typo there:
"the country is set to be ruled by the prime minister, who wants closer cooperation with Iraq, "

I think you mean "closer cooperation with IraN", no?

Good stuff, regardless.
It feels like the entire time I've been alive we've been in some war. Maybe we'll just be doing it until the 2050's hell we're good at it now.

Will we never say enough? They seem endless to me. Just endless.

Sorry to gripe or rant here. Thanks for the post.
We can't answer those questions you pose, because Obama tells us we must look forward and not back.

You say seven years and nearly 100,000 deaths. I think that is a little light on the body count. I have seen some estimates of over 1 million people killed and the lowest estimates are well over 100,000. Either way, its awful. Not to mention the countless wounded, orphaned, and displaced.

The only ones who benefited from this war are the war profiteers. Then again, those are the only ones who were supposed to benefit.
Gracias, RickyB. That's what I get for posting too early in the morning.
What are we doing here? What is our goal?

Making Halliburton, Triple Canopy, the old Blackwater, and other war contractors a ton of money.
What could we have done differently? We could have stayed out of Iraq and arrived at the current recession with a federal budget surplus instead of the country's largest deficit.
Thanks for the grim reminder, Saturn. Democracy is an ideal - Capitalism is the ideology. Funny how it ruined our country recently! How can we be promoting democracy when we don't have one?
It's imperialism - political imperialism.
Ok, well.... I didn't want to go to war there, you didn't want us to go to war there, but we did. Right or wrong, we did it and we are there. And we had a responsibility to try and bring so sort of order to the chaos that that war created. But if the very people we were "helping" have no interest is peace for that country...... how can there ever be a solution?

Maybe it is simply time that we, as Americans, stopped trying to be the planets "police force"? But when I see the pure, vile, acts happening in area's around the globe, when leaders of other countries publicly support attacks on Americans, I too want to do something about it. It is a tough call. One I can honestly say I have no idea of what to do about.
Americans are tired of the wars but only tired of hearing about them. The cost is beyond anyones comprehension and no one feels the pain. We are not just paying for our wars but also subsidizing Israel and their madness with the Palestinians. Thanks for the memo of our disfunction, now we can continue sticking our heads in a bucket of sand.
I've been reading a book on the Battle for Okinawa written by the chief of staff of the Japanese 32nd Army which was charged with the defense of Okinawa during this WWII battle.
It's an excellent book, well told and truthful.
The author was the chief of staff of the 32nd Army which fought in Okinawa in WWII.
He pulled no punches in seeing how destructive the Imperial Japanese Army was for his country.

The paragraph below is from the book which fits perfectly with what cheney and his puppet, bush did to our men & women and WHY.

"A man may ruin himself as a matter of pride to save face.
He should not, however, jeopardize his nation for such a reason.
Japan's leaders got us involved in the China Incident out of a sense of self-preservation.
They started that war to preserve their own power, status and honor.
Who would not despair at knowing that soldiers were dying in the interests of such leaders?"

This paragraph can be directly applied to how the cheney/bush regime got the U.S. into such a disastrous fiasco ONLY for their own aims of power, status and imagined honor.
Provocative post. (R)

@solpwr. I tripped on your statement "nobody feels the pain" -- until I realized that you were talking about the cost of the war. Then, I started thinking that there are other areas in which the public feels no pain because there is:
a) no draft
b) no war bonds (including 10-cent savings stamps for children)
c) no rationing of gasoline, tires, meat, sugar, coffee, etc.
d) no patriotic posters
e) no patriotic songs (that I am aware of)
f) no price controls
g) no blackouts nor air raid wardens
h) no scrap drives
i) no victory gardens.

The list is just a few of the contributions and sacrifices that Americans made during World War II (maybe or last legitimate war).
Saturn. Didn't get much argument did you?
It's interesting to see the different viewpoints, or -- well, the commingling of similar viewpoints, dlvstudent. I think you're right about the way that the costs of the war have been pushed off the radar screen by the lack of mandatory involvement, though... I don't think the cure for that would have been to institute any of those restrictions, necessarily.

I am really asking the questions, though -- what do we think we're still doing there? What are we doing?
Patience there. In a few more weeks it'll be the 7th anniversary of "Mission Accomplished".
War is such an ill-conceived concept to me, there is no strategy or tactic that will ever make sense to me.
I wish there was no war, only Love, Peace and Unity.

Brian
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