Mistakes have consequences

Alison Brennan is a housewife in Sacramento

Not so fast. While those of us who opposed the war in Iraq may feel the warm glow of “I told you so” on hearing that the majority of Americans now believe that the war was a “mistake,” those warmongers who now seem to have lost their interest in the war should not be let off too easily. “My bad” is not a sufficient response when one’s country has done what ours has done to Iraq.

After all, the Iraqi people suffered more than 10 years of bombings and sanctions after their leaders developed a similar unfortunate enthusiasm for illegal invasion and occupation (although, legality aside, at least Saddam Hussein’s stated reasons for invading Kuwait were true). So, shouldn’t the American people be forced to pay for our misguided and misplaced patriotism in measure equal to the damage that we’ve done to Iraq and its people?

It does not matter that our 500-pound bombs were precision-guided and hit their intended targets. It does not matter that our soldiers passed out candy to children and painted schoolhouses. It does not matter that some of the insurgents are truly awful people and that none of us would want to be governed by them. What does matter is that we prosecuted a war that our government knew was illegal, as Richard Perle noted recently, and that the American people knew or should have known that the prosecution of the war was illegal. Being too lazy to find out is not a proper excuse!

Given that the U.S. invasion of Iraq did far more damage to that country than the Iraqis did in Kuwait—simply because our destructive capacity is so much greater—the sanctions we suffer should be proportionately greater also. Our government should pay to make Iraq whole, as well as to provide compensation for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who died as a result of the invasion and occupation. We also should pay substantial punitive damages, so that the perpetrators are reminded that actions have consequences and that illegal actions that cause death, destruction and mayhem have serious consequences.

Otherwise, this is just one more example of the willingness of the American middle class to countenance the suffering of others, something it seems we should never underestimate.