Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Cost of War

Wars generally are started by men in suits for political reasons and then fought and strategized by men in uniforms-- unless those who started it continue to micromanage it for their original political purposes. Although many said we learned our lesson in Vietnam, with not letting suits do the strategizing, it seems we didn't. To avoid running up more of a debt, to avoid a draft, and maybe to hide the true cost from the American people, it has been suits who have determined a lot of what has gotten us to where we are today in Iraq.

Constantly we are told we must support the people in uniform. What the suits really mean is we must support their political agenda and they use the loyalty of the soldiers to achieve that goal. Going back in history, it's easier to see that the real reasons behind wars are often not clear until many years later.

In the case of Iraq, people with Bush's mentality and emotional make-up can't or won't reevaluate any part of it. His people constantly say if we leave now it will make all of the loss of life to date meaningless. So the only way is forward (whatever forward now means) and Americans and Iraqis must accept more loss of life both from the military and civilians.

President Bush says if we cut and run (orderly withdrawal doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary) it will appear like what we did after our Lebanon Embassy and Marine barracks were bombed in 1983 under Reagan (he actually doesn't mention this one nor do his minions because it doesn't make their party look good); then there is how we pulled out instead of getting revenge in Somalia after the horrible death of some of our troops in 1993 under Clinton's watch (this has become very popular with the foxies to discuss and is way too complicated to go into the whys of here-- but is worth doing internet research for anyone interested); and finally how we didn't avenge the October 12, 2000 bombing of the Cole which could be either Clinton or Bush (less discussion on this one for obvious reasons; but if Clinton had started a war over it right before the election, can you imagine the screaming! Republicans had already accused him of wag the dog every time he tried to get bin Laden).

Iraq was supposed to be a quick victory and it would have been... if the political decision hadn't been that we must stay to occupy, and if the political decision wasn't wanting to determine who should govern there when we do leave. With an occupation, it has become a growing military and political nightmare as Iraq has slipped into a civil war, something the Bush administration has been slow to admit even when they are told so by their own experts-- suits and uniforms.

Our reasons for going there were supposed to be about weapons of mass destruction, nukes in Iraq. Oops! Not true although some diehards cannot admit this and continue to hold out that they have to be there somewhere. What was interesting about this reason, if it was so, is why did they tell the military to secure the oil administration first and not get to the weapon storage areas until well after they had been looted-- which means the Iraqis underground fighters got whatever had been left there.

For those who finally realized the WMD in Iraq were the remanants of earlier actions and not a possible risk to the rest of the world, the reason became liberating the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator. That works to a point given the man was brutal, but most of his worst deeds occurred years ago when he was our ally, and how many innocents have been killed there since we invaded? Oh well. Currently it appears to be about planting a flowering garden for democracy in the Middle East as a beacon to all other Muslim nations for what is possible.

It does appear to be a beacon, by our own government reports, but one for terrorists, something it was not before the war. Hussein and bin Laden had nothing in common except hatred of the United States, but Hussein was badly weakened after Desert Storm and had no ability to go to war with anyone. Being a secular leader, he didn't want bin Laden anywhere near him.

Some think 9/11 is why we attacked Iraq. That's what Bush used as his excuse-- convoluted as it is; but from what I have read, the plans were in the works from the day Bush took office. They were just waiting for a good enough excuse to get the American people to buy in on it.

They did manage to hit Afghanistan first, where bin Laden actually was, but didn't finish the job; and it's pretty clear for some reason backed off on getting bin Laden. Could that be because they wanted him out there as a bad guy to get Americans to accept the Iraqi war?

Here are a few questions to consider:

Was Bush's real reason for the Iraqi war a desire to consolidate his and the Republican party's power? After all, in a war, you can accuse anyone who disagrees with you of not being a patriot. In a war, you can take away certain people's rights and the majority don't argue because it's to make them safer, right?

Was his desire to conquer Iraq related to his father's decision not to do so, and a need to show him that he was the stronger man?

In Bush's ignorance of the Iraqi culture, did he really have no idea what forces he would unleash and wasn't about to ask his more knowledgeable father, given the rivalry he felt?

Did the people behind him think they could secure an oil source and didn't have a clue of the problems they were about to face doing it? (Some think that's why Bush Sr. sent troops into Somalia-- securing a huge oil field for friendly interests.)

Today Iraq not only draws terrorists to fight the foreign occupiers (to them, that's us in case you are a Fox News viewer), but it is also a poster for their enrollment elsewhere. It has distracted our money and resources from finishing the job in Afghanistan where we might have had a chance to actually accomplish something-- although the Soviet Union didn't find that such an easy job even in the years when it had one of the most formidable armies in the world (opinion of a former military man).

The problem, with wars in countries like Iraq or any of the nations that have little military might, is they fight guerilla style, like the Native Americans did here when they were being conquered by a much larger force. The Arabs have an advantage the Native Americans didn't-- money and resources to buy weapons as they need them. They are also reinforced by a religious belief that encourages their martyrdom in the name of their holy cause.

To make it worse, what we have done in Iraq has strengthened the belief of many that the western world doesn't care about them. Would statements such as Bush makes regularly-- we want to fight them there; so we don't have to fight them here-- make you think he cared about you if it was in your homeland?

(The war memorial above is in Lincoln City, Oregon. As in many small towns across the United States, it is a list of the names of those who gave their all in a war for this country. I stop at such memorials often because I think it's good for us, who didn't pay that price, to not forget what wars are really about.

Beside it, an old woman my age or a bit older, sat and read. I didn't ask if she knew one of those names, but she could have been a wife, sister or mother. Respecting her privacy, I would not think of posting a photograph of her, but her shadow is an added reminder that although wars are often begun for political reasons, they are paid for in someone's blood.)

Part II coming in next blog!


Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Extremely heart-felt and well thought out post, Rain. Those questions are all excellent ones, of course. And--will we also take on North Korea? I'd rather see us doing something in Sudan if we have to go somewhere, but then tha's another Black Hawk Down, I guess. Did you hear what Barbra Streisand told her heckler at her concert last night?

Winston said...

Another excellent post, Rain! You missed your calling - should have been a political analyst and writer.

Certainly I have no answers to your questions, but I have an opinion that has become more firmly set as I've learned more over the past 2 - 3 years. Bush invaded Iraq for one major purpose: to secure a significant source of oil...

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Terrific post, Rain. I love that you are writing these wonderful very informed posts on our current situation. I have no answers and find the state of things right now utterly discouraging and depressing.

Parapluie said...

Ditto! The world situation is depressing. But there must be some promising answers out just within our grasp. I did not attend an upbeat summit in Newport, Oregon but read of it in the Lincoln City local paper, "The News Guard". The seminar was about sustainability - The ability to provide for the needs of the world's current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves. The organizers, David and Heidi Schaffer, have an extrordinary organic produce stand in Kernville. It is the most artful and welcoming to forming community of any commercial veggi stand that I have ever encountered. On the wall they have a decorative quilt with the words. "Tickle the earth with a hoe and it will laugh a bountiful harvest."