By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez
(A few months ago, the ten-year war in Iraq finally came to an end. Total cost: More than 4,500 U.S. dead, tens of thousands of wounded (including PTSD), many thousands permanently maimed, 250,000 Iraqi dead, millions homeless and an 800 Billion Dollar cost to the American taxpayer. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found. Given that, we thought our readers might be interested in an Ojo editorial that we first published in November of 2002.)
Careening Toward Catastrophe
During the last presidential campaign, this column opined that George W. Bush was the least qualified Republican candidate in fifty years. The point was easily made when one compared him with far more seasoned leaders such as Eisenhower, Nixon and even Bush’s own father. Since then, nothing Bush the Younger has done has caused us to alter that evaluation.
Yet even given his lackluster credentials, we cannot believe that he is sincere in his desire to launch a preemptive attack on another nation, and then commit the US to a long and potentially hideously expensive effort to recreate Iraq in our own image. Has Bush not heard the howls of protest from the great majority of the countries of the world, the wise words of caution from prominent members of his own party, as well as from many military men who distinguished themselves in the Gulf War?
Yet he has been deaf to all reasonable objections, whose specifics include:
- Even given that Iraq possesses such awesome weapons, it cannot deliver them more than a few hundred miles—so where is this “mortal threat” that Bush raves about?
- Some weapons we know Iraq has (such as nerve gas), but for the past eleven years it has not used them against us or our allies. Why—because it knows that soon thereafter Baghdad would be turned into a pile of rubble.
- Is Bush even vaguely aware that if the US occupies Iraq, we will replace Saddam, a Sunni, with a Shia (whose party compose the overwhelming majority and thus would certainly win in a democratically-held election) and thereby make Iraq the natural ally of the Shia in Iran—a country that unlike Iraq can severely damage the United States!?
- What is this “mortal threat” now that wasn’t there a year ago? Why all the rush? Could it be that Bush’s timetable has something to do with the US mid-term elections?
- Why can’t Bush handle this in the same bloodless, brilliant way that JFK settled the Cuban Missile Crisis—a threat a hundred times more dangerous than anything Iraq could ever pose?
- Why Iraq, and not Iran—which is a much stronger country with far better weapons? Then what— North Korea, Syria, China, Cuba?
- Has Bush even the foggiest of what this misadventure will cost? Independent estimates start at 100 Billion, and go as high as double that figure! Bush says it will cost only some 200 million—and that Iraqi oil will pay the entire cost.
- Why is Bush so against the idea of sending UN inspectors back in? If they find no WMD, war might be averted; if they do, the effort will help to marshal other nations to Bush’s cause.
- Why is Bush diverting military resources from fighting the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, which poses a far more serious threat to the US than Iraq? Could it be that the effort has stalled, and hence offers nowhere near as good a campaign issue as an all-out invasion?
Surely this is a smokescreen to obscure a faltering economy, a nose-diving stock market, a squandered surplus, all the corporate scandals (including those tainting even the president and his VP), and that Bush has made good on almost none of his campaign promises?
But if he is indeed serious, the following is instructive: during the Mexican Revolution, President Woodrow Wilson was visited by a group of U.S. senators, as well as several titans of business. They wanted him to send an army to Mexico to “straighten out those revolutionary bastards” who were threatening U.S. business interests.
Wilson offered them a deal. If each man would allow a son or grandson to be in the first brigade sent to Mexico, he would reluctantly accede to their demands. Wilson never heard from anyone in the group again.
Bush has two daughters of military age. If he will “volunteer” them for action in Iraq, tens of millions of skeptics like me might finally take him seriously. Hell, I’ll sign up myself, even if I have to roll into the recruitment office in a wheelchair. But don’t stay underwater waiting for anything like all this to happen.
(Postscript: Many of the same bellicose voices that bullied the American people into the catastrophic ten-year war in Iraq are now clamoring for another war against Iran, which is also “suspected of having weapons of mass destruction.” To indulge in a redundancy, it is déjà vu all over again.)