In a post on his blog a few weeks back, my brother, Malignant Vanilla, referenced one of my essays about Iraq. In response to that post, one of his readers, claiming to be a "former liberal", took me to task about my stance on the Iraq war. Now, normally I have a "live in your own delusions if you must" attitude towards right-wing posters on other blogs. However, I have grown increasingly agitated at accusations cast at myself and others who oppose the war as I do so I thought I'd take a moment to address what I found to be the individual's key point: that if you don't support the war, that means you wish Saddam Hussein was still in power.
That is complete garbage and I am thoroughly tired of listening to such accusations just because most conservatives are too dense to understand any foreign policy more nuanced than the plot of "Mars Attacks". No liberal supported the reign of Saddam Hussein. He was a brutal dictator, supported and armed by the United States, and the world is a better place without him in power. However, the case for removing Saddam Hussein as a benefit to the Iraqi people is not so cut and dried.
Recent estimates indicate that as many as 130,000 Iraqis have died in the U.S. invasion and occupation. I fail to see what great humanitarian goal the United States has thus accomplished by replacing Saddam Hussein as the oppressor of the Iraqi people. Further, if the goal of the Iraqi invasion was to "free" the people of Iraq, then why didn't George W. Bush take that case to the Congress and the world? I'll tell you why: because the Republicans in this country do not give two shits about the people of Iraq. This war was about protecting U.S. oil interests and furthering a geopolitical power restructuring to further U.S. interests in the region. I find it awfully disingenuous that the same Republicans that get so teary-eyed over Iraqi freedom fought tooth-and-nail against U.S. intervention in Bosnia-Hercegovina or Rwanda. But, of course, Democratic President Bill Clinton was in charge then. Conservatives certainly wouldn't want a few hundred thousand lives to get in the way of their partisan hypocrisy.
I have no problem, per se, with military intervention for humanitarian reasons. But there has to be a clear and pressing need for such and it needs to be done as a united effort by the free world. Conservatives love to whisper in mock horror of all the lives lost to Saddam Hussein's brutality after the Gulf War, as if they really care one whit for thousands of dead Kurds and Muslim Arabs. There are thousands in Darfur whose deaths cry "Hypocrisy!" on such protestations. The fact is that atrocities happen all over the world and those that occurred in the 1990's under Saddam Hussein in no way justify the United States invading in 2001, killing thousands of its citizens. That makes us no better than the previous dictator.
Saddam Hussein's reign was coming to an end, with or without U.S. intervention. His power in Iraq had waned to almost nothing in its isolation and his sons did not have the support of the ruling Ba'athist party. However, none of that matters now. Instead, our invasion has left a country torn apart by a civil war which, in all likelihood, only stands to worsen with time, further destabilizing the region. A Shi'ite Iraq, allied with Iran, could potentially solidify a bloc of antagonism towards Israel, while a free Kurdistan nearly assures military mobilization by both Iran and Turkey. A destabilized Iraq puts upward pressure on oil prices and creates a breeding ground for the very terrorists against which Bush claims to be fighting a "generation-spanning conflict".
I refuse to be burdened any longer by the ignorance of those who cannot see any use for the United States military except as the stick with which we try and beat the world into submission. Our dragging occupation of Iraq is demonstrating quite clearly to the world that U.S. has long since ceased being the world's superpower and is nothing more than a fading bully, seeing death and destruction as it's only reliable tools of statecraft. Such is the final result and ultimate failure of the "good guys vs. bad guys" simpleton's view of the world to which conservatives cling so rabidly.
Every end does not justify every means. Ending the reign of Saddam Hussein was not worth the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis or thousands of American G.I.'s. Those men, women and children deserved better than to be slaughtered and maimed so that a few million American conservatives could live out their video game war hero fantasies from the safety of their living room couches. It was not worth the loss of the American reputation as a trustworthy member of the global community. It was not worth billions of dollars in U.S. debt; debt which my children will be stuck paying because of the gross fiscal irresponsibility of the Republicans.
Finally, and most importantly, not one, single conservative in America has any right or ability to speak for the Iraqi people. The nation of Iraq and the lives of it's people were not ours to sacrifice, no matter how much American conservatives pretend to some noble humanitarian airs. We haven't given Iraq "liberty and justice", we've given them death, destruction and war. We've shoved American arrogance straight in their faces and forced them to die for ignorant conservative idealism.
I opposed this war from the beginning and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. War is the greatest failure of humanity and I refuse to be bullied by those too ignorant to see the truth. I'll stand with some wiser Americans than today's conservative chickenhawks:
I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war. - Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes. - Douglas MacArthur
But, just to be fair and balanced, I will end with a quote that perfectly encapsulates conservatives' support for the war:
Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. - Hermann Goering