Again, this week, I heard a respected interviewer begin a discussion about Iraq with the now well-established caveat,
“No matter how you feel about how we got into this war, whether you believed in the reasons set forth by the Bush Administration or not . . .”
It stopped me dead in my tracks. Why? Because the reasons we got into this war DO matter. In fact, those reasons make all the difference between perceiving a US withdrawal as surrender, or viewing our withdrawal in terms of how we clean-up the damage and instability we have brought to the region.
Our invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was, and is illegal. That fact is absolutely relevant to any discussion of how we extract ourselves from the region. We are doomed to continue to fail to meet our own objectives – successfully quell the insurgency, train an Iraqi police force, establish a democratic form of government – all the tasks set forth by the Bush Administration, because we lack the moral authority to do anything but dig the hole we’re in deeper and deeper.
Life is not returning to normal in Iraq, despite President Bush’s assurances last week that it is. Thousand of Iraqis die violently every month as a result of bloody spasms of ethnic cleansing. It has become routine for the authorities in Baghdad to report finding a dozen or more bodies throughout the city each day, victims of torture and execution. Basic utilities like running water and electricity are scarce and unreliable. Iraqis who manage to avoid meeting a violent end, must fear the ravages of emerging plagues like cholera.
In whose twisted reality are these the signs of life returning to normal? The answer is clear; the same architects of war who led us into this mess with lies and manipulation and then squandered every opportunity to win over the Iraqi people and stabilize their country, continue to lie, manipulate and squander, all for their own personal gain.
Our withdrawal from Iraq – when it comes, if it comes – will be difficult and ugly. But, it doesn’t have to bring additional shame to our country. If we are honest about how we got into the Iraq War, it will inform our efforts to leave the country in a way that will stress bringing humanitarian aid and providing safe haven for Iraqis who have served our Armed Forces.
It also means punishing the US leaders who crafted this abomination in our name. Our Constitution gives us the tools to do this in a non-violent manner through impeachment proceedings.
I’m starting my letter writing campaign today to let my elected representatives know that I support impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the first steps toward reuniting our divided country and restoring our good standing in the world.