Warning: the following is my current opinion. As my sagely nephew often says, Opinions are like a$$holes…
George W. Bush (“Dubblya” to his friends) said that the American people had to strike against the “axis of evil”. Thousands went to war, and I think the battle went as cleanly and quickly as any of us could have hoped. But what was it about? And what happens now?
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Let’s start with what the war was about. Dubblya drew a link, in his somewhat confusing way, between the events of September 11th, 2001, and Saddam Hussein. I’m really hard pressed to understand this one. Saddam harboured terrorists…well, frankly, so did the United States itself. The guys who flew the planes into the Trade Centres spent months, perhaps a couple of years, living in the U.S. and in fact were being trained by Americans to fly the planes they used. Furthermore, the U.S. government trained and supplied Osama Bin Laden during the Afghan war: so why aren’t the people who made those decisions being bombed, and their neigbours too? Well, because they were misguided Americans, so its okay.
Bush Junior also said that the Iraqians (Iraqees? Iraxians?…) have Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD, in the new parlance). No doubt they did have such weapons at one time. Guess who supplied many of them to Iraq? Look back to the years of the Ayatollah in Iran, when the U.S. was secretly supplying…yep, you guessed it, Saddam Hussein. And biological weapons, don’t forget that Saddam also has those…well, the CIA apparently delivered supplies to Baghdad in the mid 80’s, and the British invited Iraq’s arms scientists to Bioweapon manufacturing seminars at about the same time. So maybe we should be bombing the neighborhoods of the people who authorized these decisions? Well, its all okay anyway, since the U.S. military hasn’t found a single bonafide weapon of mass destruction during the Iraq War. And now the U.S. wants to block UN inspections and perform its own…seems sort of suspicous to me.
The final official reason for attacking Iraq: Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator who abuses his own people. I’ll agree with that, 100%. I don’t see any redeeming features in the man, and have long thought he should be removed from power, forcibly if need be. And it appears that Saddam has been removed…good job!
The question now is: what happens in the middle east? There are several thousand years of hatred brewing there: Arabs hating the Jews, Bathists hating the Sunnies, everyone (except Israel) hating the Americans. How do you straighten that mess out? For one thing, I don’t think you play favorites. Why is Iraq and Syria being attacked and bludgened on the “suspicion” of having weapons of mass destruction, when Israel is known to have over 200 nuclear warheads? As for harbouring terrorists…the former Prime Minister of Israel, Mecachem Begin, was a notorious terrorist leader throughout the middle of the century. Whats different about his (and other Israeli) terrorist acts and those of some of the people in Iraq? Not much, if you are one of the victims.
I’m not interested in defending pigs like Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden. They deserve painful and lengthy deaths for all the pain the have inflicted. But I believe we have to be careful about how we judge the people around them. I think the U.S. “got lucky” with this war against Iraq: actually, I’m doubtful that it will really be over any time soon. I suspect we will be feeling the repurcussions of this battle for years to come in the form of sporadic anti-American terrorist activity.
Nor am I interested in belittling the hard work and risks taken by the American soldiers: they did an outstanding job minimizing the damage done, and are worthy of great praise. They still have a lot of work to do, and I’m glad that there are people in this world like them willing to step up and do the tough jobs.
But I am concerned about this becoming a “model” for actions elsewhere. The perception could be that this war was a success: frankly, I think everyone should be asking exactly what it solved. And was it worth the price in terms of lost lives and destroyed property?
In the final analysis, the middle east and, in general, the world, are full of amazingly complex problems. The cartoon-inspired good guy/bad guy viewpoint drawn by George Bush Jr.s “Axis of Evil” is grossly oversimplified and potentially very dangerous. The types of battles and the perception of “progress” this viewpoint inspires risk building deep and long-lived pockets of violent hatred against America and her allies that will vastly outlive Dubblya’s term of office.
I don’t know exactly what the answer is in terms of dealing with the Middle East. However, I know it would be naive to believe that the War of Iraq is over, and foolish not to look back at what led to this state of affairs for clues about how to avoid these situations in the future.