|November 22, 2004|
When It Hurts to Say, "I Told You So"
It is well and good to be proven right in most circumstances, but there are times when being proven right brings great pain. The predicament in which we now find our once-glorious nation is one of these. Millions of people from all over the world marched in the streets in warning against launching war against nations in the pursuit of a small band of international, radically-religious criminals. While all grieved the loss of life in the cowardly attack on the World Trade center, many foresaw the over-reaction of President George W. Bush as the opening of a giant Pandora's Box that would unleash unspeakable evil on the world. Now those millions of people can only stand helplessly by as their predictions continue to prove out.
Those of us whose memories span decades were aware of the events of history. We do recall the results of previous invasions of Middle Eastern nations and the eventual outcomes. In the case of Afghanistan specifically, there have been many conquests of this isolated area of the world and none of them have been successful over the long term. As a matter of fact, we warned, our connection with Usama bin Laden began when we trained him and his band of merry men to assist the Afghans against the invading Russians, who failed miserably to prevail over the rugged terrain and the even-more-durable Afghan way of life.
But invade we did. We "liberated" the people of Afghanistan amid all the hoopla about establishing democracy and improving the lives of all citizens therein, especially the downtrodden women who would at long last be freed from their veils and their seclusion. We "took control" of that sad nation, establishing an occupation of all the vital territory; we installed a former oil company employee as the President with the approval of the ruling warlords, and we called it a democracy. Meanwhile, Usama and many of his men escaped into the mountains and were all but forgotten as we had other fish to fry and other nations in our "axis of evil" in which to establish our version of democracy.
With a reduced force in-country, maintaining the peace and attempting to find the "bad guys", Afghanistan returned to the normal routine. The fields were plowed and the poppies were planted and grew into a bumper crop. Last year 75% of the world's opium supply was produced by the Afghan people under the direction of the warlords and sold on the world market by the Taliban while the President of Afghanistan is barricaded in his palace by fear of assassination. The warlords are still in control on the local level and their brutal rules of "justice" are still in place. Women are still sold into marriages where abuse by the husband's family still becomes so unbearable that more and more are turning to self-immolation to escape it. Except in the city, women are still closely veiled and politically impotent. Afghan life has returned to normal despite the presence of the foreigners.
Meanwhile, against the will of the people, our troops were sent into Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction which were not there. We implemented the desired "regime change" and declared "Mission Accomplished". We installed the expatriot, Ahmed Chalabi, as temporary leader only to have to remove him due to accusations that he was dealing with Iran and providing covert information to that potential adversary. A hasty "election" by leaders of the various religious factions led to the designation of Iyad Allawi as temporary president until "full and free" elections could be held.
Some of the long-sighted Cassandras had been warning from the beginning that Saddam had been weakened by the United Nations sanctions and the U.N. inspectors insisted that the "weapons of mass destruction" (which we had provided to Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran War) had been destroyed or had deteriorated with age and were no longer a factor. However, President Bush persisted in his quest for a reason to invade, based on a personal vendetta against Saddam because "He tried to kill my dad!" However, some were able to see that the conquest of this ancient civilization would not be so easy. We recalled the warning issued by Saddam some years before; (to paraphrase), "We will give them the desert.....and then we will fight them in the streets and alleyways in our cities, and we will prevail." This has been proven to be true, despite the fact that Saddam is rotting in an American prison.
Over the ages, many nations have invaded the Middle East, most in Holy Wars, Crusades, or in attempts to gain control of the natural resources. To date, none have succeeded. Great Britain held the lands as a protectorate for some time, but was never able to implement any real reform of the government. Their "protection" was largely limited to preventing the indigenous populations from killing each other. As the time came to relinquish this tenuous control of the whole area of Mesopotamia, Iraq, which contained the most contentious religious factions was deliberately drawn to control them and to prevent their spread to other areas. A brutal dictatorship was set up to govern on the premise that they could not be controlled otherwise. Thus the rise of Saddam Hussein.
After the conclusion of the Gulf War, when many wanted the United States to invade and conquer Iraq, upon the good advice of some wise people, President George H.W. Bush decided that the nation would be ungovernable without Saddam and he declined to follow up on the victory that had been won in Kuwait. The same advisors and the same advice were available to President George W. Bush, but he preferred to listen to the multinational corporations who whispered dreams of controlling the Iraqi oil in the ears of an ambitious man. It would be easy, said the whisperers, to get rid of a weakened Saddam, destroy the opposition, and install a friendly government with whom to contract for all the lovely oil. The people of Iraq were said to be waiting to greet us with flowers and cheers. We were, in fact, greeted with signs of "thumbs up" which, we soon learned, were not the Iraqi signal for "A-okay" but were similar to a familiar American one-finger salute.
Our children are still engaged in a horrific guerilla war and dying at the hands of the very "resistance" of which Saddam warned. The "insurgents" are fighting them door-to-door in the streets of one city after another and returning to cities that have already been "taken" to fight again. Our young men have themselves become prisoners, being held far beyond their military commitments while the President refuses to institute a draft to gain replacements for fear of arousing the electorate. Well over a thousand American soldiers have died, thousands more maimed, and many thousands of Iraqi civilians have become the victims of our bombs and bullets, but there is no end in sight.
We have been led into a war which, as many have foreseen, cannot be won, cannot be quit, and can only be disastrous as our nation goes into financial melt-down and this administration mortgages our future for generations to pay the enormous debt that this ill-thought-out war will cost. In addition, our place in the world financial markets is in grave danger as our trade balance bottoms out, our national debt to foreign nations balloons, and our reputation as "leader of the free world" is negated.
Being able to say, "I told you so", is small compensation for the pain of seeing how far our great nation has fallen in only four years and the apprehension at what will likely happen to us all in the next four years. GOD SAVE THE USA!
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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