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War and Terror: Victory aside, the invasion was a bad idea|
Posted on Wednesday, April 16 @ 16:56:17 UTC
By Arianna Huffington, Los Angeles Times|
The Bible tells us that pride goeth before the fall. In Iraq, it cameth right after it.
From the moment that statue of Saddam Hussein hit the ground, the mood around the Rumsfeld campfire has been all high-fives, I-told-you-sos and endless prattling about how the speedy fall of Baghdad is proof that those who opposed the invasion of Iraq were dead wrong.
What utter nonsense. In fact, the speedy fall of Baghdad proves the antiwar movement was dead right. The whole pretext for our unilateral charge into Iraq was that the American people were in imminent danger from Hussein and his mighty war machine. Well, it turns out that, far from being on the verge of destroying Western civilization, Hussein and his 21st century Nazis couldn't even muster a halfhearted defense of their own capital.
The hawks' cakewalk disproves their own dire warnings. They can't have it both ways.
The invasion has proved wildly successful in one other regard: It has unified most of the world -- especially the Arab world -- against us. Back in 1991, more than half a dozen Arab nations were part of our Desert Storm coalition. Operation Iraqi Freedom's "coalition of the willing" had zero. Not even the polygamous potentates of Kuwait -- whose butts we saved last time out and who were most threatened by whatever threat Iraq still presented -- would join us. And substituting Bulgaria and Tonga for Egypt and Oman is just not going to cut it when it comes to winning hearts and minds on the Arab street.
Almost everything about the invasion -- from the go-it-alone buildup to the mayhem the fall of Hussein has unleashed -- has played right into the hands of those intent on demonizing and destroying our country.
The antiwar movement did not oppose the war out of fear that the United States was going to lose. It was the Bush administration's pathological and frantic obsession with an immediate, damn-the-consequences invasion that fueled the protests.
And please don't point to jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets to validate the case for "preemptive liberation." You'd be doing the Baghdad Bugaloo too if the murderous tyrant who'd been eating off golden plates while your family starved finally got what was coming to him. It in no way proves that running roughshod over international law and pouring Iraqi oil -- now brought to you by the good folks at Halliburton -- onto the flames of anti-American hatred was a good idea. It wasn't before the war, and it isn't now.
The unintended consequences have barely begun to unfold. And the idea that our slam dunk of Hussein actually proves the White House was right is particularly dangerous because it encourages the Wolfowitzes and the Perles and the Cheneys to argue that we should be invading Syria or Iran or North Korea or Cuba as soon as we catch our breath.
It's important to remember that the Arab world has seen a very different war than we have. They are seeing babies with limbs blown off, children wailing beside their dead mothers, Arab journalists killed by American tanks and bombers, mosques being obliterated, holy men killed and dragged through the streets. They are seeing American forces leaving behind a wake of destruction, looting, hunger, humiliation and chaos.
Ari Fleischer is also sending out the wrong message when he claims that the administration can't do anything to keep Christian missionaries -- including those who have described the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a "demon-possessed pedophile" -- from going on a holy crusade to Baghdad. If there is one thing that could bring Sunnis and Shiites together, it's the common hatred of evangelical zealots who denigrate their prophet.
And it doesn't help to have the American media referring to Jay Garner, the retired general overseeing the rebuilding of Iraq, as "viceroy." If you open your dictionary, you'll see that term means "one who rules in the name of a sovereign, with regal authority; who serves as the king's substitute." It reeks of colonial imperialism. Why not just call him Head Bwana? Or Garner of Arabia?
The role that shame and humiliation have played in shaping world history is considerable, but it is something the Bush team seems utterly clueless about. Which is why the antiwar movement must be stalwart in its refusal to be silenced or browbeaten by the gloating "I told you so" chorus on the right. On the contrary, it needs to make sure that the doctrine of preemptive invasion is forever buried in the sands of Iraq.
Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times:
|Average Score: 4|