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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Will Iraq be for the US what Afghanistan was for the Soviet Union: The Beginning of the End of US Empire?

From History of the Present:

A US Army report has compared US involvement in Iraq to the disastrous involvement of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the early 1980s--an intervention that sapped the strength of the Soviet Union's military and economy, and helped to bring about that country's dissolution within a decade. Will the imperial overreach of the US intervention in Iraq sap the strength of the US military and economy in similarly disastrous ways in the decade ahead?

This question underlines how important the US intervention in Iraq may be for determining not only the history of the middle-east, but the history of the US, in the years ahead. And far from transforming the middle-east for the better, we may already be seeing the terrible consequences of the assertion of a foreign policy governed more by hubris and the interests of war profiteers, than by any real interest in benefiting the people of the middle-east or the people of the United States.

AS MICHIKO KAKUTANI concluded in his New York Times review (July 25) of the book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, by Thomas Ricks:
While the occupation of Iraq (which Mr. Wolfowitz had predicted would basically pay for itself through oil revenue) was costing American taxpayers an estimated $5 billion a month in 2004 and 2005, the chaos-ridden country was replacing Afghanistan as a training ground for a new generation of terrorists. Meanwhile, writes Mr. Ricks, the United States Army found itself in a strategic position that “painfully resembled that of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the early 1980’s.”

Not only had the war “stressed the U.S. Army to the breaking point,” a study published by the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute declared, but it had also turned out to be “an unnecessary preventive war of choice” that “created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland” against further attacks from Al Qaeda. The war “was not integral” to the global war on terrorism, the report concluded, but was a costly “detour from it.”
Now the question is: What will the US do to get out of a bad war that could still get a lot worse for our soldiers and our country?

Unfortunately and tragically--as the Vietnam war demonstrated--there may be no good way to get out of a bad war that was entered into via lies and hubris. The main question may already be not whether we can find a good option (as if there is one), but whether the best bad option is keeping our soldiers there to stay and die for a failed policy, or admitting that the policy was wrong and getting out of the mess before it gets much worse?

Over the next year we may reach the point where the nation will have lost more of its citizens from a deliberately chosen war in Iraq, than were lost on 9/11. Is this how we as a nation want to be expending the lives of our fellow citizens and billions of our tax dollars?

These are the questions the citizens of the United States need so urgently to consider. Every day we lose more lives, even as the violence that is killing on average a hundred Iraqis a day continues to grow. If the US presence in Iraq is part of the problem rather than part of the solution to this terrible violence, then perhaps it is not only morally wrong for the US to continue to remain there, but it may be morally and politically right for the US to leave, for the sake of the lives of our US soldiers, and the lives of Iraqis, and the future of the middle-east.

The big question this time is: How long, and how many more lost lives, will it take for the US to admit the mistake of its policy in Iraq, and change its course?

The world is watching, and history-making decisions are being made. Will the citizens of the US help to make this history for better or for worse? We see where the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have been taking this country. Hundreds of billions of our tax dollars, that could have been used to address problems of poverty, disease, and global warming, for the good of our own citizens and humanity abroad, have instead been getting used for a bad war and for weapons of mass destruction.

If we want to see a significant change in this policy of expending our tax dollars and the lives of our fellow citizens, we can begin to change the history of the present today by joining together with our neighbors, friends, and colleagues to demand a change in the people who represent us in Congress this election year. Let the change begin now....

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