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Was Invading Iraq the Worst Decision in US History?

by: Richard John Stapleton
Monday June 23, 2014 - 21:43

Here is a passage from my book, Business Voyages, a business bible, at http://www.amazon.com/Business-Voya..., written in 2007, embarking on page 680:

“Suicide bombing by Muslims it seems to me started in Israel because of injustices inflicted on Palestinians by Christians and Jews. Real injustices have been and still are being perpetrated against Muslims on the ground in Palestine by Jews, and these injustices should be corrected and stopped, but Muslim suicide bombers killing innocent people in suicide bombings anywhere is not the way to cause this correction. Many people from many nations have been aware of the problem in Palestine for many years and they have invested much time, money, and energy to solve the problem; but unfortunately no one to date seems to have had the power or wisdom to cause significant and lasting corrections (Carter, 2006; Chomsky, 1987).

“About six million helpless innocent Jews during World War II were exterminated in Nazi Germany in gas chambers in probably the most cold-blooded, callous, sadistic, and immoral operation in human history; and Christians and Muslims in many countries have killed and harassed countless Jews since the Jewish diaspora in the last two thousand years; yet these injustices inflicted on Jews did not justify innocent Palestinians losing their homes and land and human rights after the establishment of Israel after the expiration of the British mandatory for Palestine and the Arab-Israeli War in 1948. I am not grandiose enough to propose a new resolution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on my limited understanding. This long-festering case is insidiously complex and frustrating with no answers or myths yet discovered or co-constructed acceptable for all parties.

“Problems in Israel notwithstanding, it seems to me most of the Muslim suicide bombings in recent years outside Israel have been caused by a desire on the part of disillusioned, grandiose, and power- hungry Muslims, mainly young male Muslims, to impose Islam and its ways on people who do not believe as they believe; and apparently most or all suicide bombers have thought this behavior was moral and ethical and would result in rewards in heaven. If so the only way to stop this sort of violence, which has little to do with injustices suffered by Palestinians, is to convince such people that such behavior will not result in eternal bliss in heaven and that living their natural lives in peace would be better than a suicide bombing career. A real and lasting solution entails humanity correcting injustices of many sorts that have existed for centuries for myriad people of diverse ethnic and religious heritages in many cultures all around Earth.

“As I see on television fighting and killing in Africa and the Middle East I wonder what is causing this insanity and horror. However much I might sympathize with the suffering of the combatants, it seems to me a basic cause of the fighting is that young men do not have constructive outlets for their energy. Millions of testosterone-fueled males have grown up with nothing to do in dry dusty countries; and they are caught in what is euphemistically called unemployment. They are deprived of means of constructive creative expression, such as getting married, producing a family, building a house, planting and tending a garden, learning and contributing to learning in a school with competitive debate and dialog, creating and operating a business that satisfies others with goods and services, writing or producing any form of artistic or intellectual contribution that might provide pleasure or utility for others, growing crops or livestock that would provide sustenance for themselves and others. Apparently they think their only option to assert their manhood, preserve their self-esteem, and give their lives a sense of meaning and purpose is to join a gang fighting in some sort of war led by some sort of leader who happens to have a bit more charisma and seeming manhood than they have. Within the gang they find a sense of belonging by professing to believe in the myths of the gang and from this they derive satisfaction since they receive strokes from gang members for conforming to the behavioral requirements of the gang and surviving. It seems more and more violent gangs some of which are called militias or terrorist networks or sects continue to sprout up not only in Africa and the Middle East but also all over Earth. Curing the causes of this violence will entail significant changes.

“During parts of the 36-hour debate in the US House of Representatives conducted in February 2007 by Democrats to vote no-confidence in President Bush II’s 21,000-troop “surge” in Iraq, increasing the number of US soldiers in Iraq to some 150,000, I saw and heard on C-SPAN on television Republican members of the House Military Appropriations Committee and others several times tell us Americans that increased military expenditures are necessary because we are besieged by enemies almost everywhere who have been attacking us almost with impunity for 20 or more years. They recited a litany of talking points about attacks made by suicide bombers including the bombing of a base in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983 in which 241 Marines lost their lives, the bombing of the World Trade center twice, the bombing of the USS Cole, and attacks on American embassies in various parts of the world. They asserted we are now engaged in a global war on terror, and they said this justified us invading Iraq and may justify us bombing Iran and requires us to increase our military expenditures to support our troops in Iraq and in some 138 countries around the globe. They said fighting terrorists in Iraq has caused terrorists not to attack us inside the United States and therefore fighting in Iraq is protecting American civilians; and they asserted or implied Americans disagreeing with these policies and arguments are insufficiently patriotic or paranoid, are unwilling to support our troops in Iraq, and are unwilling to pay the price for freedom.

“Although there is some truth in some of these arguments, how much military can we afford? According to USAToday (2007, pg 2A) in their issue of February 21 in an article titled “Pension Tension: More and More Retirees are Finding it Pays to Have Worked for the Government Instead of the Private Sector,” the newspaper published this chilling sentence: ’The US government has a bigger unfunded liability for military and civil servant retirement benefits ($4.7 trillion) than it does for Social Security ($4.6 trillion).’

“Freedom is not free, but how free will we be if we bankrupt ourselves paying for freedom?

“How many Americans were killed in the above attacks not counting the 3,500 or so American soldiers and civilians killed to April 2007 in Iraq? Four thousand or so American civilians were killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center but how many Americans were killed in all the other attacks not counting 9/11 and Iraq? Probably less than 1,000. Religious suicide bombers have probably killed fewer than 5,000 Americans by aggressive unprovoked terrorist attacks in the last 24 years, counting 9/11, but not counting American lives lost in Iraq, since we could have avoided these deaths by not attacking Iraq.

“To fight one simplistic slogan with another, not only is freedom not free; freedom is not safe. Freedom entails risk. It is one thing to increase military spending in Iraq to protect our troops, which almost anyone would agree we should do, but how much can we continue to increase military expenditures of all sorts all around Earth?

“Religious suicide bombers killing a few thousand Americans in 24 years in premeditated suicide bombings is tragic, but when you consider there are some 300 million of us Americans this is a minuscule percentage loss, especially when compared with the much larger number of premature American deaths caused by other forms of violence, and the losses caused by religious suicide bombers do not justify causing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in Iraq. The probability of an American citizen being killed by a Muslim suicide bomber on American soil even now is so low as to be almost immeasurable—largely because we are still protected by some very wide oceans separating us from the killing fields of older worlds; we still have some ability to control who gets into the US by controlling our borders; and a large majority of Muslims are rational peace-loving people.

“We should have captured and punished Osama bin Laden after his minions crashed their high jacked airliners into the World Trade Center and we should have invaded Afghanistan to bring him to justice, but bombing and invading Iraq was probably a mistake born of jingoism and hubris. The blitzkrieg-like American bombing and invasion of Iraq was disproportionate to actual terrorist threats, and the Bush II administration shot us in our own foot by making it happen. We should have been patient; and like good Christian soldiers marching as to war following the teachings of Jesus we should have turned the other cheek to those who merely hated and reviled us—while we tracked down the criminal Osama bin Laden and the leaders of his network with all the fury, might, and cunning we could muster. We should have captured him, there in the mountains of Toro Boro, right at the first, no matter how many troops it took, but he got away.

“Now that the milk has been spilled in Iraq, Americans are left with a moral dilemma and a nasty mess. Having deposed and hung the evil Saddam Hussein and wiping out his regime, thereby unleashing violence born of centuries of pent-up religious hatred between fanatical Shites and Sunnis, if Americans should pull out of Iraq now, there is a chance hundreds of thousands of additional innocent Iraqis could die in a religious war, in a bloodbath similar to what occurred in ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s, after the removal of the iron-fisted Soviet regime.

“Changes are needed in Iraq, but pulling American troops out now could be disastrous for innocent Iraqis, as President Bush II, our action figure president, may have for once correctly pointed out. Since Americans caused the conditions that allowed the anarchy and the gruesome contingencies now facing innocent Iraqis to emerge, contingencies worse than those they faced when Saddam Hussein ruled them, should a religious war occur after American troops are pulled out that results in widespread carnage much of the blame will rest with America.

“What American citizens need is not a change of strategy in Iraq but a change of vision and mission, and a new commander in chief for our military, a regime change of our own, which thanks to the wisdom of our founding fathers in 1776 and our Constitution we shall have on January 20, 2009. However tragic it might have been, about fifty percent of voting American citizens, about 25 percent of eligible voters, elected a commander in chief for our military in 2000 who decided to use our military, backed by a majority vote of legislators in Congress, to aggressively destroy an Iraqi government that functioned in a primitive culture; and it seems to me wise and moral United States citizens cannot now in good conscience wash their hands of the aftermath, leaving innocent Iraqis without a functioning government, subject to the lawless predations of petty warlords and religious fanatics, as in Somalia.

“How many more billions of dollars should Americans borrow from China using what is left of our national credit rating to give Iraqis to rebuild what we have destroyed? Whatever we do, hopefully we shall never again ship $12 billion to anyone on pallets only to have it disappear. This monumental act of negligence and incompetence, according to allegations made during the above-mentioned debate in the US House of Representatives, apparently really happened shortly after the invasion of Iraq. Can you imagine telling the American people, ’Hey, guys, guess what, we put twelve billion dollars in paper bills on some pallets and shipped it to Iraq and it disappeared. We don’t know what happened to it. Maybe a forklift operator got it.’

“We Americans have had quite a ride since about fifty percent of American citizens who voted in the 1980 presidential election, again about twenty-five percent of eligible voters, elected a handsome aging movie star president who entertained us with humorous, charming, and heroic stories while his administration pumped up the US economy with military spending and tax cuts, adding $2 trillion in debt to the federal debt in eight years, which was twice as much debt as was accumulated by all previous US presidents in the entire history of the United States—increasing the federal debt to $3 trillion in1988.

“Neoconservative policies and habits initiated during this administration stimulated the economy, however much less most new jobs created in the private sector since then pay in income and health and retirement benefits for working Americans; but neoconservative policies and habits, while making some Americans richer in the short run, have resulted in a serious debt hangover that sooner or later will have to be cured by sober minds. Tonight March 3, 2007 the US National Debt Clock on the Internet says the outstanding public debt is $8,792,906,993,431.00, almost $9 trillion now, and the debt total is currently increasing at the rate of $1.84 billion per day. To see what the federal debt is now all you have to do is punch national debt clock into your computer’s Internet access slot.

“According to David Walker, head of the US Government General Accounting Office, who also spoke on the March 4, 2007 60 Minutes program, the US is headed for an economic collapse if significant changes are not made in its fiscal policies. Walker said while the US appears to be in decent shape economically at the present time the deficit and federal debt problem is like a malignant silent cancer eating away on the inside sure to cause serious problems. Walker said most federal politicians realize the seriousness of the debt and budget deficit problem, but they remain silent about it, to conserve their political careers, posturing as usual as fiscal conservatives. The common sense solution is obvious—raise taxes for the rich back to where they were and cut spending—which could cause a recession—which most American voters do not want to hear.

“So most politicians will let the ostensible good times roll as long as they will, hope the economic double bind does not cause a collapse anytime soon, continue to vote for their party line, and stay in office as long as possible, while continuing to talk doublespeak about paying the price for freedom, promoting conservative values, and making the tax cuts permanent. Most politicians apparently think it is better to go down with the ship than to accept personal responsibility for changing course.”

Was invading Iraq the worst decision in US history?

For sure it was one of the worst. The worst may have been right-wing judges on the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 split decision giving the 2000 election to the worst president in US history, Bush II, after a majority of US citizens voted for Al Gore.

Richard John Stapleton is an emeritus professor of business policy, ethics and entrepreneurship who writes on business and politics at www.effectivelearning.net and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/richard.st....



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