The beginning of the end in IraqThe withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Baghdad and other key cities in Iraq marks the beginning of the end of the tragic war there. While it’s not over yet, the Iraqis are celebrating and happy — free at last from American control. Well, almost.
By: Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers, The Jamestown Sun
WASHINGTON — The withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Baghdad and other key cities in Iraq marks the beginning of the end of the tragic war there.
While it’s not over yet, the Iraqis are celebrating and happy — free at last from American control.
We have had six and one half years of the ongoing conflict, with American war dead totaling 4,320 and more than 31,000 wounded. More than 100,000 Iraqis also were killed, and thousands more wounded.
Add some 4 million refugees to those formidable numbers of human cost.
Then there is the small matter of an estimated $682 billion as the financial cost of the war, which is still costing about $1 billion a week.
Have we seen former President George W. Bush’s 2003 banner “Mission Accomplished” finally come true? Not quite.
None of the American officials who sold us this disastrous war is in the dock, though maybe they should be. The falsehoods they told to justify this tragic invasion stressed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network. This was false.
The neoconservatives who plotted and masterminded the war have faded into safe havens — universities and right-wing think tanks — and are free to make mischief another day.
Was it worth the losses, the pain, the sorrow of families, the fatherless children, the disabled and mentally disturbed veterans for a war waged on the basis of wrong information?
The damage to our reputation as a peace-loving people is incalculable. Our reputation was further sullied by the torturing of prisoners and the detention of hundreds of captives who were never charged, tried or convicted.
The U.S. has violated international laws on several scores, to our shame. The federal government also violated U.S. law by spying on Americans with warrantless wiretaps, all in the name of national security.
Are we leaving the Iraqis able to take care of themselves, or are they worse off? The answer is that their 5,000-year-old civilization has survived modern imperial Western colonialism and will manage somehow.
To this day, the American people have not been given an honest answer about what prompted Bush to go to war in the turbulent Middle East. After the 9/11 catastrophes, it was anything goes.
The American people were hoodwinked into a war with Iraq that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on the U.S. That apparently didn’t matter to Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney or the hawkish advisers who used those attacks as a springboard to invade Iraq.
Since they have had to pay a high price, the American people deserve to know the truth of why Bush thought he needed a war.
Under the U.S. agreement with Iraq, the U.S. has promised to remove all troops by 2011. Currently, there are 130,000 American forces on hand.
President Barack Obama should take heed of our inglorious failures and the great sacrifices in Vietnam and Iraq before he ups the ante in Afghanistan.
(Helen Thomas can be reached at 202-263-6400 or at the e-mail address email@example.com).
(c) 2009 Hearst Newspapers
Distributed by King Features Syndicate