Now, let’s review
We Americans are famous for forgetting. In fact, author Studs Terkel says we suffer from a “national Alzheimer’s disease”—a kind of historical amnesia wherein we’re capable of forgetting anything that doesn’t fit neatly into our perception of our own lives and the life of our country. In hopes that Terkel is wrong and that we are still occasionally capable of taking the long view, SN&R hereby offers a few essential memory-refreshing observations about the war in Iraq.
“ America, with a population of 280 million, has a $400 billion defense budget. Iraq, with a population of 25 million, had a $1.4 billion defense budget. When the big country attacked the little one, it took three weeks for the little one to be toppled. Given the numbers above, are we supposed to have been in doubt about the outcome?
“ The war was carried out in the name of homeland security—to protect the United States from the Iraqi regime’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Before the war, President George W. Bush’s justification for war and absolute focus was on these weapons and the danger they posed. Now that hardly any such weapons have been found, 58 percent of Americans say that finding them was not necessary. Neither was finding Saddam Hussein. The only thing that mattered, apparently, was that the war have a successful outcome.
“ There remains no credible link between the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, the group behind the awful attacks on the World Trade Center. Ergo, the recent war did not assail those who perpetrated 9/11. In fact, many believe terrorists have been strengthened by the Iraq war because it has served to enrage about a billion Muslims, thereby ensuring the rise of more Islamic violence against American targets.
“ CNN showed Iraqis dancing in the streets when the Iraqi regime was toppled. (A deposed brutal dictator is always a good thing.) But CNN’s 24-hour news coverage did not show the smashed and bloody bodies of innocent civilians (sure to number in the thousands) who now crowd the hospitals and makeshift morgues of Iraq. A real turnoff.
“ Despite a famously wrecked domestic economy, Bush convinced Congress to cough up the requested $75 billion it cost to go to war in Iraq. The next expenditure? Experts say post-war reconstruction and occupation of Iraq will cost at least $100 billion.
“ A recent Field Poll noted that, unable to distinguish between criticizing the troops and denouncing the politicians who put the troops in harm’s way, nearly half of all Californians feel anti-war protesters are unpatriotic and were wrong to criticize the attack on Iraq when the war was ongoing. So, we’ll support and fight for freedom of speech in a remade Iraq but don’t much like it here.
They say those who forget the past are destined to repeat it, so let’s try not to forget the above. Otherwise, in the end, all that remains is a tragic loss of lives and a war that became its own justification for war.