Bang the drum slowly, America. The war in Iraq is finished. Finished for us, at least. For the Iraqis…well, in keeping with the previous nine years of American policy the Iraqis who haven’t been killed off will be left holding the proverbial bag. The tornado George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sowed with all the bluster of an administration with God on its side has been left behind in a far distant desert land, its unspent winds no longer a killing force for American men and women.
Too many of our leaders have spoken up this last week to declare that the sacrifice made by our soldiers hasn’t been wasted. That lives given were not given in vain. That fortunes spent haven’t been billions poured down the pisshole of history. That this very special and totally unnecessary war launched under false premises by an American president was not the military, financial and moral debacle that it was.
And now the lies continue. We lied our way into war so of course we need to lie ourselves out of it. Unlike Viet Nam we no longer lie about casualties. We prefer to lie about war’s causes. Its raison d’etre. No two voices can agree on why we went to war, why we rained killing waves of bombs down on Baghdad. Or why, given our expressed concern about weapons of mass destruction, we forced out the UN inspectors who could have unearthed such evil devices without taking a single human life?
Was it all for nothing? Was it because Saddam Hussein tried to kill George W. Bush’s father after the first Iraq war? Or was it for the oil? We not only have the right to know, we have an obligation to find out the truth. How else can we prevent another unmitigated disaster? How else can we face the wives, children and family of those who died and honestly tell them their sacrifice had some value, some reason, some purpose behind it other than the lies perpetrated by a band of American adventurers who had captured the reins of our government?
The human costs have been enormous —4,500 American dead, 32,000 American wounded, more than 122,000 Iraqi civilians who died violently from insurgent attacks, suicide bombings, and our own made-in-America bombs. This was an expensive, brutal war that should have never been launched. It was a war we never could win. Like Viet Nam, whatever victory we claimed came from our solemn departure.
President Obama and Leon Panetta have told our returning soldiers that the lives, treasure and national honor we left behind in that scarred desert wasteland haven’t been sacrificed in vain.
But nobody will say what they were sacrificed for?