Five years ago last week, the U.S. military's
"shock and awe" campaign lit up the Baghdad sky. Five years later,
with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 4,000 Americans dead, we should
pause and reflect on just what has been gained and what has been lost.
From the beginning, the march to war was paved with false assumptions and lies.
Senior administration officials claimed repeatedly that Iraq was somehow responsible
for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction. They manipulated the fear of the American people after 9/11 to
further a war agenda that they had been planning years before that attack. The
mainstream media was complicit in this war propaganda.
Nearly 10 years ago, long before 9/11, I requested time in opposition to the
fateful Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, where I then stated on the floor of the
House of Representatives, "I see this piece of legislation as essentially
being a declaration of virtual war. It is giving the president tremendous powers
to pursue war efforts against a sovereign nation." Less than five years
later we were invading Iraq.
Five years into the invasion and occupation of Iraq, untold hundreds of thousands
of Iraqis are dead; some 2 million Iraqis have fled the country as refugees;
and the Iraqi Christian community one of the oldest in the world
has been decimated more completely than even under the Ottoman occupation or
the rule of Saddam Hussein.
On the U.S. side, nearly 4,000 Americans have lost their lives fighting in
Iraq, and many thousands more are horribly wounded. Our own senior military
officers warn that our military is nearly broken by the strain of the Iraq occupation.
The Veterans Administration is overwhelmed by the volume of disability claims
from Iraq war veterans.
A study by Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz concludes that the cost of
the war in Iraq could be at least $3 trillion. The economic consequences of
our enormous expenditure in Iraq are beginning to make themselves known as we
fall into recession and possibly worse.
Iraq war supporters claim that the "surge" of additional U.S. troops
into Iraq has been a resounding success. I am not so confident. Under the "surge"
policy the United States military has trained and equipped with deadly weapons
those Iraqi militia members against whom they were fighting just months ago.
I fear by arming and equipping opposing militias we are just setting the stage
for a more tragic and dangerous explosion of violence, possibly aimed at U.S.
troops in Iraq. There is no indication that the Iraqi government has made any
political progress whatsoever.
The sooner we withdraw, the better. The invasion and continued U.S. occupation
has strengthened both Iran and al-Qaeda in the region. Continuing down the road
of a failed policy will only cost more money we do not have and more lives that
should not be sacrificed. Interventionism has produced one disaster after another.
It is time we return to a non-interventionist foreign policy that emphasizes
peaceful trade and travel and no entangling alliances. We can begin by withdrawing
from Iraq immediately.