Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We must at least learn from Iraq mistake

March 19, 2008


Pitts to chat

Beginning today, columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will participate in weekly live chats on He will be chatting with readers from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday.

And five years later, here we are.

There were no weapons of mass destruction. We were not greeted as liberators. The war did not pay for itself. The smoking gun was not a mushroom cloud. There was no connection to 9/11. The course we stayed led over a cliff.

Worse, Iraq has become a recruiting station for Islamic terrorists. One presidential candidate foresees a 100-year occupation. Electricity is still a sometime thing in Baghdad. The war that was supposed to pay for itself was recently projected to cost us $3 trillion - that's trillion, with a "t," that's a three followed by 12 zeroes, that's "3 million millions." And American forces have sustained over 33,000 casualties, including 4,000 dead and 13,000 wounded too severely to return to action.

Pundits and politicians will spend a lot of time debating the war in Iraq on this, its fifth anniversary. They will analyze what we have achieved, pontificate on where we should go from here. I will leave those arguments to them.

Not that those are not worthy issues. But I cannot get beyond what is, for me, the one overriding truth of this war.

It should never have been fought.

Yes, I know: The point is moot. The war was fought and there is nothing we can do about it. But I submit, there is, in fact, at least one thing we must do. Learn from it.

Much has been made of the culpability of the Bush Administration, of the arrogance and incompetence that midwifed this mess. Less has been made, however, of the culpability of Bush's accomplices, the enablers and facilitators who made this misadventure possible. By which I mean you and me, the American electorate.

Granted, many of us have been screaming "no" as loudly as we could from the very beginning or shortly thereafter. But many more refused to own what we knew, refused to accept the evidence of our own eyes and call this administration to account. We were scared beyond the ability to reason and wanted to feel safe, we were too heavily invested in lies to be turned aside by truth, we needed with a desperation to believe what we were being told, to buy what we were being sold.

Excuses. At some point, you have to stand up and be brave. Stand up like American women and men.

This, we have largely failed to do. Three months after the war began, when it was becoming clear there were no weapons of mass destruction, 56 percent of us told Gallup it didn't matter, said the invasion was justified regardless. Play that back again: the primary rationale for the war was disintegrating like a sandcastle in the waves, yet a majority of us shrugged and said, "Whatever." Like our president, we were impervious to truths we did not want to know.

That majority is a memory, but it lasted long past the point it should've, lasted long enough to enable this disaster, to send George W. Bush back to office claiming a mandate, to dig us in so deep the sun feels like a rumor, to create legions of new terrorists, to run up a bill we will be generations paying off, to take the lives of 4,000 Americans and Lord only knows how many Iraqis.

So yes, we should at the very least learn from this, commit it to communal memory, so that maybe next time a fear-mongering leader tries to stampede us into precipitate and unwise action, we will have the guts to stop and reason and own what we know. And to realize that the electorate has a role to play in the life of a free nation and it is not mindless cheerleader.

One can only hope. In the meantime, here we are, five years later. The electorate has largely moved on, more concerned about the price of gas than the price of war.

But the war grinds on. Indeed, it has ground the president's approval rating down to the low 30s.

Maybe you think that's accountability at last. Me, I'm surprised it's still that high.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.


Corey Williams 10 years, 1 month ago

Good idea. Take the high road and just kill as many as possible when we illegally invade another country. As long as we don't spoil any of their oil wells or ruin any deposits underground, there shouldn't be a proble.

Yes, I'm being sarcastic. And maybe, just maybe, even your vulgar post can at least be discussed in a civilized manner...just as soon as you realize it's spelled "guessed".

igby 10 years, 1 month ago

After reading the first paragraph, I guest it was written by Pitts.

Next time Leonard, we will just nuke the living crap out of them. It's cheaper.

temperance 10 years, 1 month ago

mancityfooty -- Don't you love the racism just lurking below the surface of the war cheerleaders. Are we liberating them or nuking them? And who is "Them?"

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

There is racism in Iraq on the battlefields which is appalling to some troops: =============================================== And when the PNAC Neocon republican party starts screaming war... where's the hard evidence neocon repub party. =============================================== One thing that has been learned is that presidential power should be reined in substantially. Bush/Cheney repub party brought to the office a serious dictatorship mentaliity and abused the office of the president and abused our troops. Lying about Iraq should have landed both of them a job in San Quentin.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"We had a UN resolution "

Really? Which resolution was that?

"Lying about Iraq?"

That you haven't recognized it yet is testimony to your gullibility and willful ignorance, Mr. Sheeple.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

As republicans run for office: ALWAYS remember Bush/Cheney! Always Remember Iran Contra! Always Remember The Patriot Act! Always Remember Spying on Americans! Always Remember $3 trillion Dollars Always Remember the tens of thousands of disabled and abused USA soldiers! Always Remember the millions of Iraq people that have been either killed or wounded all for the USA oil cartel! Always remember 9/11/01 as an example of substantial incompetence of the republican party! Always remember War should NOT be american foreign policy! Always Remember Cost of Iraq = Loss of Prestige,Power&Influence

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

Always remember the republican party as the elected officials who NEVER question THEIR president just bow down and vote party line. This behavor began in 1980 under Reagan/Bush. Remember Reagan/Bush,Reagan/Bush,Bush/Quale,Bush/Cheney and Bush/Cheney

Those Bushes make bad decisions including Neil Bush who made bundles ripping off a savings and loan.

Jeb Bush: A Savings and Loan Bailout, and Bush's Son Jeb

By JEFF GERTH, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES Published: October 14, 1990

LEAD: After Jeb Bush, a son of the President, and a partner bought a Miami office building using money an associate had borrowed from a local savings and loan, the Federal Government wound up repaying most of the loan.

After Jeb Bush, a son of the President, and a partner bought a Miami office building using money an associate had borrowed from a local savings and loan, the Federal Government wound up repaying most of the loan.

The savings institution became insolvent, and the Government paid more than $4 million to make good the loan as part of the bailout of the savings industry. Mr. Bush and his partner negotiated a settlement with regulators in which they repaid $505,000 and retained control of the building. While they still have a $7 million mortgage to pay on that property, the settlement with the Government lifted from their backs a $4.565 million second mortgage.

How are Bushes making out on the sub prime scandal? I am quite curious.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, Mr. Sheeple. That was not UN authorization to invade. Since your memory is faulty, I will remind you that BushCo chose not to seek any authorization to invade, because they knew they wouldn't get it.

BTW, Iraq complied with that resolution to disarm, as inspections confirmed.

mick 10 years, 1 month ago

The biggest lesson to be learned is that the mainstream media favors the neocon (PNAC and AIPAC) agenda. They lie and manipulate and most Americans are hypnotized by them. It's not simply a "liberal media." They love war and greed as much as any "conservative" Republican.

jonas 10 years, 1 month ago

Mr_Values (Anonymous) says:

"Defender, Jimmy Carter unleashed the islamic instability in the middle east when he ousted the shah. It may take 4 more republican presidents before we can undo the harm done by one democratic president. We're working on it."

So, does that mean that Republican Presidents are four times less effective than Democrat Presidents? Do you have the figures for all of this?

Mkh 10 years, 1 month ago

And has anyone running for President actually learned from these mistakes? Well no, besides Ron Paul.

Even Obama, whose only claim to fame is not wanting the Iraq War is ready and willing to attack any nation anywhere the "terrorists" might be...sound familiar? He speaks how "great a threat" Iran is to US national security and threatens to invade Pakistan.

Obama also hasn't learned the lessons from our loss of civil liberties, he supports the Patriot Act, Real ID, and Homegrown Terrorism Bill. Yet the "Left" wants us to believe he is somehow different, and has the interest of the people in mind.

Don't even get me started on the other two idiots.

kansas778 10 years, 1 month ago

Here's what we've learned from the Iraq mistake: don't try and stop your enemies before they are strong enough to cause real damage, you'll be criticized for "lying" about the danger and for "illegal" invasions. Instead sit back and wait like Clinton while the world plots against us; at least your approval ratings will be high.

Friendo 10 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Values if you read United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 you will see that paragraph's 4, 11 and 12 make it absolutely clear that should Iraq be non -compliant with this resolution, (Para. 4), or should the IAEA or the UNMOVIC report any interference by Iraq in carrying out it's inspection activities or failure to comply with this resolution,(Para 11), "then the Security Council shall convene in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance", (Para 12). Unfortunately no such second meeting took place and the use of force against Iraq was not authorised. Mr. Values, I am delighted that you bought United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 to everybody's attention today because on the basis of it the invasion of Iraq was completely illegal. I hope I was of some help in clearing this up for you.

kansas778 10 years, 1 month ago

So Windlass, are you saying that Clinton would have invaded Iraq in 1998 if only it weren't for those darn republicans?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"What Jimmy Carter did was allow the Shah into the U.S. for medical treatment, and he refused to hand him over for trial in Iran."

You forgot to add that he did it at the request of the Shah's good buddy, Henry Kissinger.

kansas778 10 years, 1 month ago

You're right windlass, it has been longstanding policy of the US after Vietnam to remain detached and not get directly involved, particularly with ground troops. We've learned from Iraq and Vietnam that we must sit back while our enemies grow stronger, because unless there is a direct move like the invasion of Kuwait, or the attack on 9/11, there will be no end to the criticism and condemnation, so it's better to sit around and do nothing.

Friendo 10 years, 1 month ago

Where have all of Mr. Values post's gone? I hope there's no censorship afoot.

kansas778 10 years, 1 month ago

Babboy--exactly, a couple of cruise missiles and we can feel like we did something without actually committing ourselves and without actually doing anything. That's the way we keep our approval ratings high. I think it's quite funny how those few minutes that Bush was sitting in that classroom seem to be the sole reason Bin Laden is at large. If only Bush had acted 60 seconds sooner!

Mkh 10 years, 1 month ago

kansas778 (Anonymous) says:

"So Windlass, are you saying that Clinton would have invaded Iraq in 1998 if only it weren't for those darn republicans?"

If 9/11 would have happened in can bet the farm that Clinton would have invaded Iraq under false pretenses not long afterwards. Bush and Clinton are both criminal puppets who work for the same string master. All of you are wasting time and brain cells trying to make one look better than the other.

pisafromthewest 10 years, 1 month ago

Windlass (Anonymous) says:

"Jimmy Carter was one hell of a president if the comparison were made today between him and George W. Bush. Well wait, any former Democratic president would be."

Somebody really, really needs to stop cheeking her meds.

Friendo (Anonymous) quotes:

"then the Security Council shall convene in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance"

Thanks for pointing out how completely useless and ineffectual the UN has always been. Despite the fact that Hussein was not in compliance and was interfering with the inspectors, they reneged on their own resolution to reconvene the security council. And if they had (after how many years of Hussein laughing his a** off?), they would have passed yet another_resolution, sat on their useless butts for _another ten or twelve years, before they considered ... passing another resolution, all the while with our troops sitting in Kuwait at our cost waiting forever for the UN to do what they always do: absolutely nothing.

The UN has never, ever been worth the paper their charter was written on.

cool (Anonymous) says:

"we must learn from the mistake of election 2000 as well."

Why is it that the liberals always seem to forget that after all the votes were counted, their idol Gore still lost?

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