Iraq and the Failure of Accountabilty
Anyone who has ever spent time in the criminal justice system knows that it is defined by its breathtaking arrogance and jaw dropping abuse of power. The moral bankruptcy, rank hypocrisy, unequal treatment, expense and inefficiency of the system are nothing less than inconceivable. A thesis writ large would do little justice to the virtual justice it routinely dispenses. We could wax poetically about the system’s demand for humility, its requirement of contrition and the psychological, if not pathological need for the accused and all others to concede the purity; the nobility of the system and all who work therein.
Woe unto those who refuse the infallibility of the system; the moral superiority of those who prosecute him, them or her. Pity the fool who fails to show the requisite respect. Anything less is the unacceptable failure to take personal responsibility for one’s conduct. This in and of itself is a punishable offense. And while demanding personal accountability from all others it forgives itself far too easily. Such is the bias of privilege. Such is the privilege of power.
Never has this fundamental truth been more fully realized than the hot mess that is Iraq. We remember it well, the people who lead us into this quagmire and the lies they told.
Weapons of mass destruction they snorted. Ties to Al Qaeda, responsible for the September 11 attack, mushrooms clouds and yellow cake uranium they groaned. We will be treated as liberators, the war will last no more than a few weeks, we can win on the cheap and Iraqi oil will pay for it all, they quipped. The falsehoods never ended.
So we invaded a sovereign country which posed no threat to us and did us no wrong. We overthrew their government, disbanding their armies, fired their police and mismanaged the war. We stayed the course and then we surged. For years we occupied their country, misplaced millions of American dollars in the process and declared victory without defining the term. Eventually we left. However we did not leave Iraq a better place. We instead broke it into a million pieces, creating a jigsaw puzzle that no one can piece together.
Some would argue that the war advocates were simply wrong, that they operated in good faith in reasonable reliance upon faulty intelligence. Rubbish! Not for one moment do we don’t buy this excuse.
We are instead persuaded that those responsible for the Iraq fiasco were neither innocent nor duped by faulty intelligence. We are instead convinced that the war hawks deliberately twisted the intelligence to justify the invasion. We are further persuaded that these same forces intentionally used the trauma of 911 to manipulate the country into the disaster know as Iraq.
Even if viewed in the light most favorable to the war advocates, whatever intelligence they relied upon was their intelligence. Faulty or not, it was produced by people and agencies under their direct control and exclusive jurisdiction.
Yes, at one time Saddam Husein possessed horrible death-dealing weapons because we gave them to him. And yes, he was a brutal dictator who murdered his own people. But he was our brutal dictator. We created and armed Saddam Husein during the Reagan Administration as a bulwark against Iran. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And we collectively looked away when in the 1980’s, he murdered his fellow Iraqis.
Most importantly, these were not simple mistakes about mundane matters. They were instead horrendous mistakes, disastrous mistakes, unnecessary yet deadly mistakes concerning matters of grave national and international importance.
And, the Iraq war mongers were not just wrong. They were fundamentally wrong, consistently wrong, completely and indelibly wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no yellow cake uranium or ties to Al Qaeda. The Iraqis did not treat us like liberators, their oil did not pay for the war, the conflict was not short-lived and those who opposed us were not in the last thrones of their insurgency.
During our years of occupation, we made no attempt to understand the people of Iraq or their culture. We failed to preserve law and order or restore basic services. We did not control the Iraqi borders and we created an army of resentful, well armed resistance fighters by disbanded the country’s military and paramilitary forces without first securing their weapons or offering alternative means of employment. We compounded these grievous mistakes with the Au Ghraib prison scandal, a recruiting tool for terrorist worldwide if ever there was one.
Approximately 4,500 American soldiers perished in a needless war and tens of thousands more were severely injured. Anywhere from 150,000 to 500,000 Iraqis died in the invasion and occupation alone. Since then tens of thousand more have died in car bombings and sectarian violence. The Iraq army, which we spent millions of dollars to train has discarded their weapons and abandoned their posts. Americans soldiers are now once again called upon to quell the violence.
Suppose the Chinese and their “Coalition of the Willing” had used the economic meltdown of 2007, to invade our nation, disband our government, destroy our cities and cause the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Imagine further that the Chinese multiplied these sins by imprisoning and abusing our citizens in their own Abu Ghraib, all under the guise of protecting the world’s economy from imminent collapse.
Who amongst us would be satisfied with the “oops, we made a mistake” defense? What reasonable American would accept the “faulty intelligence” argument? Or would we instead demand that the invaders be treated as war criminals and tried at the International Criminal Court for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression?
The Iraq blunder may well be the biggest foreign policy/diplomatic/military mistake in our nation’s history. Ironically, the true and correct intelligence, “Bin Laden determined to Strike in the U. S.” was completely ignored, while the bad intelligence, “weapons of mass destruction, mushroom clouds, ties to Al Qaeda”, etc., was accepted and acted upon. Amazing!
But rather than fade quietly into the background, instead of practicing the art of dignified silence, the architects of the Iraq War are hardly quiet and anything but remorseful. Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, in a June 17, 2014, Wall Street Journal Op Ed entitled The Collapsing Obama Doctrine”, the usual suspects are as truculent as ever.
Rather than show humility, theirs is the nasty habit of placing hubris before humility; pride before wisdom. They argue that the surge worked, we won the war in Iraq, we left Iraq a stable country and the consequences of decisions they made, of actions they took, is the President’s fault. Unbelievable!
It is important to note that the President was one of the few who voted against the resolution granting the Bush administration the authority to use force against Iraq. And those who pushed the hardest for the Iraq invasion did not place themselves in harm’s way regarding this or any other armed conflict. During the Vietnam War, Mr. Chaney benefited from five deferments having as he put it, “better things to do”. Talk about the arrogance of power.
Where is the personal accountability here? Why have those who advocated for the war and who failed so miserably in its prosecution, not been taken to the woodshed?
If anyone else made a single decision that cost the life of a coworker, or resulted in a billion if not trillion-dollar loss to their employer, whether based upon “faulty intelligence” or not, they would be out on the street both unemployed and unemployable. Their opinions would have no value and they would not be invited to appear on TV anymore than O. J. Simpson should be booked as an expert on domestic violence.
In conclusion, Blackcre makes no attempt to shame the shameless. Nor do we endeavor to reason with those who know no reason. We simply make the following request of the media.
Stop kissing the asses of those who were so wrong for so long. Stop booking the Iraq apologists on the Sunday talk shows. Let them practice their right of free speech elsewhere. And above all, cease and desist from seeking their input about Iraq any other foreign policy matter. Given their track record, we would be better advised to consult a fourth grader.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum