Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2003 Invasion of Iraq

From Wikipedia:

The 2003 invasion of Iraq lasted from 19 March 2003 to 1 May 2003 and signaled the start of the conflict that later came to be known as the Iraq War, which was dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States (prior to 19 March, the mission in Iraq was called Operation Enduring Freedom, a carryover from the conflict in Afghanistan). The invasion consisted of 21 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland invaded Iraq and deposed the Ba'athist government of Saddam Hussein. The invasion phase consisted primarily of a conventionally-fought war which concluded with the capture of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad by American forces.

More here.

Tomorrow is the eleventh anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.  Here are some things I hope the American people have learned since then, even though they probably have not.

1.  The government can lie, and do so very convincingly.  Indeed, the government can lie, and, by playing on patriotic themes, get the public to enthusiastically endorse that lie, and even condemn and attack, sometimes physically, the relatively few Americans who don't believe the lie.

2.  Trusted and beloved leaders can be duped into helping the government lie very convincingly, as with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

3.  When the government lies, the truth is often freely available elsewhere to anyone who cares to do five minutes of research.  That is, even though the corporate press in the US pushed the government lies about WMD, the foreign press was all over the many inconsistencies and contradictions embedded in these assertions about both WMD and Iraq's willingness to hand them over to Al Qaeda.

4.  When Americans are united in a frenzy of self-righteousness, people die.  American soldiers die.  Foreign soldiers die.  Innocent babies die.  Etc.

5.  There are profound limits to what we can do with overwhelming military power.

6.  Democracy cannot be installed by force.

7.  According to the principles of Nuremberg, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals.

8.  We Americans can be as brutal and barbaric as the vilest and most despotic regimes in history, as with torture at Abu Ghraib and our use of chemical weapons during the siege of Fallujah.

9.  Indeed, America, as a nation, is no more or less moral than any other nation, anywhere, at any point in history.

10. We made many of the same mistakes with the Vietnam War, but we repeated them again with Iraq, which means we, as a people, are absolutely AWFUL with self-reflection.

Like I said, I hope we've learned at least some of these lessons.  The public's lack of willingness to enter the Syrian Civil War indicates that perhaps we have, but, on the other hand, after Vietnam, we were gun shy for a few years, too, and it didn't take long for us to return to our war-mongering ways.

I continue to fear for my country's recklessness and arrogance.