Why are we still in Iraq?

Posted on April 28, 2011

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The American invasion of Iraq was supposed to take only a few months in 2003: A quick-n-painless mission accomplished to depose dictator Saddam Hussein, find and dismantle weapons of mass destruction and then go home – in a matter of weeks, not months. And Iraqi oil was supposed to pay for it all.

Eight years and 1.668 Trillion debt-dollars later, more than 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and not only is there no end in sight, the soldiers on the ground, as well as a swelling majority of American citizens can’t even tell you in a single sentence why we’re still there or what they’re accomplishing. Oh, and the price of oil has gone from $43 a barrel to its close today at $113.86 a barrel.

Despite a security agreement requiring a full U.S. military withdrawal by the end of this year, upwards of 40,000 American troops will continue to be deployed in Iraq beyond 2011. An average of 2.27 American military members will continue to be killed every day. And more than $12 Billion will continue to be paid every single month to Halliburton and it’s perpetually indicted-for-accounting-fraud subsidiaries for “troop support contracts.”

About 47,000 American troops are in Iraq now, about a third of the October 2007 peak of 166,000. As of this week, 4,439 U.S. personnel have been killed. A senior adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the U.S. has suggested to Iraqi officials that up to 20,000 troops stay.

So those are the numbers, irrefutable and provable.

My question is: WHY?

What are we accomplishing in Iraq today? What murderous dictator are we overthrowing? How much freedom are we bringing to the country and its people? What weapons of mass destruction are still there? What cave-dwelling, video-tape-releasing terrorists are we hunting? What are we getting for the $188 Billion the United States will spend in Iraq by the end of 2011? And why is it that America only seems interested in “opposing human suffering” in countries that just happen to be oil-producing?  Don’t agree?  Name any military conflict since the invasion of Grenada or the Falkland Islands that didn’t take place in an oil-producing nation.

President Barack Obama is risking a political persecution the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Dixie Chicks spoke out against George Bush if he once again caves to Republican/teabagger decree and agrees to keep a U.S. force of thousands in Iraq beyond Dec. 31. But he also doesn’t want to be blamed for losing the war if Iraq is overrun by widespread insurgent attacks or sectarian fighting after U.S. troop departure. Baghdad political analyst Hadi Jalo said al-Qaida and former Baathists who led Saddam’s regime are likely to launch “big attacks in order to shake the government and show its weakness” after American troops withdraw.

But … not to sound completely dispassionate … why is that America’s concern? If we’re going to continue being the world’s police while hypocritically and defiantly claiming we’re not, shouldn’t we get something out of other than three dozen flag-draped coffins flown into Maryland every month?

And are we making so much “progress” in Iraq that we can afford two OTHER wars in Afghanistan and Libya? How many decades should we wait before we simply admit that Iraq military forces will NEVER be able to conduct themselves and all our “training” of them for the past eight years hasn’t accomplished a damned thing? How many reconstruction and support contracts does Halliburton really need?

For half a century after World War II, Americans were told that policing the world was a strategic and moral imperative: we were “saving the world from communism,” and “defending our own national security.” On this pretext, Washington overthrew democratically elected governments (after they’d financed, trained and installed the tyrannical bloodthirsty governments which preceded them). Then, despite overwhelming opposition from the American people, we went to war in Vietnam, and even supported genocide — from Indonesia to Guatemala — when our leaders found it politically convenient – and financially beneficial – to do so.

Looking at the world in 2011, it’s hard to believe that we were really fighting communism all those years. Today China is the only remaining communist country with any power, it’s about the replace the United States as the world’s largest economy, and it is the largest recipient of US foreign investment in the developing world. Ironically, that may be what saves us from a new Cold War with China – we owe them so much money that we couldn’t possible finance any opposition against them if they decide to “close the note.”

Should we come up with an eye-catchy iconic symbol to represent our world police officers? Should we issue our military troops stylish, all-black uniforms with calf-high black boots, crisply starched black shirts with arm bands and epaulets? Seems to me that the last crew who did that with the idea of policing the world in accordance with their political ideology didn’t fare so well.

Do we really want to turn the South Park creators’ movie “Team America: World Police” into a documentary?  The teabaggers have proven that we’re already well on our way to doing that with “Idiocracy.”

The best way to prevent future incidents would be to stop looking for trouble all over the world. Do we really not have enough problems within our own borders?  Are not enough people unemployed? Are not enough American children sick or starving? Do we have too few homeless people? We would never allow a foreign plane with sophisticated surveillance equipment to fly 70 miles from coast of Florida, gathering intelligence on our military. Yet Washington insists that it has the right to make 200 of these kinds of flights each year to spy on China, and to send drone planes to carpet bomb countries that pose absolutely no threat whatsoever – either militarily or financially – to the United States.

You can’t have it both way. If you want to play emperor, there’s a price to be paid to enforce it. Every single American – man, woman and child – is already paying more than $1960 each year to the Pentagon, while we forego urgent needs such as prescription drug coverage for our senior citizens, or ensuring that the money people have paid into Social Security for decades is actually going to be there for their own retirement.

While the American people bear the costs and risks of maintaining an empire, the benefits do not trickle down to us serfs.

But enough about this silliness, let’s do something REALLY important, like demanding to see Barack Obama’s grade school spelling bee records so we can determine his eligibility to be president.

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