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As Long as We Remember...

December 20, 2011

Exit Iraq

Roy Meachum

Whatever else he promised; Barack Obama celebrated this weekend the campaign pledge to exit Iraq – with 82 percent approval from local residents who voted in The Frederick News-Post daily poll.


As readers know, I was a bitter opponent of the decision to invade Baghdad. Eight years ago — on my younger grandson’s birthday — the Bush Administration took the nation to war; it will be nine years next March. We were told Dictator Saddam Hussein possessed — and intended to deploy — weapons of mass destruction. The opening days presented disaster after disaster. (And the White House was eventually proven a liar on the WMDs.)


The White House said that “shock and awe” would soon defeat Hussein’s troops. Nobody said “ragheads and camel jockeys,” but the language in all other ways was racially demeaning which fed into our national prejudice against Muslims and brown skins. George W. Bush commandeered a naval aircraft carrier, summoning network news cameras; he posed in a flight jacket on the deck, declaring “mission accomplished.” That was six months after the invasion started. That was more than eight years before President Obama’s speech last week.


But the dumbest act of all the dumb actions was Iraq’s American administrator Paul Bremer dissolving of the Iraq’s armed forces, throwing out of their jobs the best qualified men capable of resisting the invaders. In many cases, they took their weapons along. Washington exacerbated the crisis by unintentionally pitting factions against each other.


As the British before him, Saddam Hussein used his minority orthodox Sunnis to ride herd on the majority dissident Shiites, which can be compared to Christian Protestants. The Kurds, a non-Arabic nation that produced Salah el-Din, who kicked the crusaders out of the region, have always wanted their own country. After American combat troops fully exit Iraq, Turkey inveigled the Pentagon to move drones, still under U.S. command, somewhere in the Ottoman Empire heartland. The problem the Bush occupation faced was that many Sunnis belonged to the former dictator’s imperious party. Several candidates in the recent elections were banned as Baathists; many belonged because it was a means of survival when Saddam Hussein ruled.


Discontent against the Americans grew tremendously in the wake of prison brutality, inhumane killings of Iraqis and the silent slaughter of children and adults by drones. As Englishmen when the Sun never set on their empire, our countrymen acquired a terrible reputation for trashing other cultures. (The joke reigns: What do you call someone who speaks several languages? Polyglot. What is someone comfortable in two languages? Bilingual. And someone who speaks one language? An American, although a Brit is still a proper answer.)


In that part of the world, we are seen largely as Israel’s protector. Arabs – Christian and Muslim – live with the Jewish state because of its unceasing aggression against its neighbors, and particularly Palestinians. As I have written, Zionists remind me of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem that lasted about 100 years. With super weapons in its arsenal, Israel might endure longer, but only if Washington provides a bulwark. Roaring civil war is a distinct prospect.


Advertising and proclaiming we’ve packed up all our grisly Iraq toys, the question now remains: What happens in Afghanistan? Any hope of leaving behind a stable government and a population in our international corner vanished long ago. We are obviously being raped and led around by our rich noses. The main reason we stay is because of military influence.


Ever since Vietnam, where the U.S. armed forces judged they were stabbed in the back, generals and admirals have maintained personal propaganda machines. David Petraeus was the most accomplished; his retirement in August, some observers contend, made possible the president to proclaim the accomplishment of the campaign promise.


As noted in the opening, I was subject to mutterings and more overt actions when the war in Iraq got underway, over my column’s strong objections. Nobody has talked to me about the subject in a long while. Of course as paid-up lifetime American Legion member, I’ve stayed away from the club’s bar for almost eight years.


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