By Charley Reese
One question Americans should be asking the Bush administration is why it
wishes to do such an expensive favor for the Iraqi people.
I cannot think of any instance in which the federal government has been
willing to spend $1 billion a week and 1,700 lives just to improve
conditions in any one of the 50 states. Yet that is exactly what it is
doing in Iraq, presumably for no other reason than to bring the blessings
of liberty to a people we have bombed, starved, impoverished and
vilified for 14 years.
Naturally, the democracy bit is a fallback excuse after the original
justification for launching a preemptive war was proven false. There were
no weapons of mass destruction. There was no nuclear program. There were
no ties to al-Qaeda. There was no threat to the United States, imminent or
These undisputed facts leave the American people with two choices. One,
they can give President George Bush the benefit of the doubt and believe
that he believed there actually were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
In that case, he is guilty of the most expensive blunder in the history of
the United States. When such blunders are discovered, the normal course of
events is to fire the people responsible. No such firings have occurred in
the Bush administration. In fact, the Bush administration refuses to
admit it made a mistake, however obvious the truth.
The second choice is to conclude that the president deliberately misled
the American people and was intent on attacking Iraq without regard for
the facts. There is accumulating evidence that this is the case. As a
recently unearthed British memorandum reveals, Bush had decided to go to
war, and the facts were to be "fixed" to justify it. This explains the
lack of firings. The intelligence bureaucrats didn't err; they did exactly
what the Bush cabal instructed them to do: fix the facts to justify a war.
Whichever it is - colossal blunder or deliberate deception - President
Bush has gotten away with it. Neither the voters, the Congress nor the
press has held him accountable.
That leaves the present mess. We are now once again hearing the old
rhetoric of the Vietnam War. "We can't cut and run"; "To pull out now
would be a catastrophe"; etc. and so forth.
This is a false argument. A planned withdrawal after the completion of the
mission is not "cutting and running." No group - most of all the
insurgents - believes it has the power to drive us out of Iraq. After the
interim government drafts a constitution and elects a permanent
government, there will be no justification for us to remain. If we do, we
will be seen as propping up a phony government the Iraqi people don't
Furthermore, we as outsiders cannot defeat an insurgency, because our very
presence fuels its recruiting drives. Only the Iraqis can defeat the
insurgency, and only after we have left.
President Bush, in my opinion, doesn't intend to leave Iraq ever. He is
looking for a permanent U.S. military presence in that country. The
American people and the Congress, however, can force him to withdraw. If
the people put enough pressure on Congress, the legislative branch can cut
off the funds and thus force a U.S. withdrawal. Unfortunately, I fear that
more Americans will die before the pressure builds to that point.
Trying to create democracy at the point of a foreign bayonet was a fool's
errand from the beginning. It can't be done. My guess is the Iraqis will
eventually choose another strongman to give them what they most want,
which is security, functioning utilities and jobs. What we have done with
our invasion and error-riddled occupation is create the perfect conditions
for a new dictator.
In the meantime, the American people should be concerned that their
federal government worries more about the Iraqis than it does the
Americans. We could find far better uses for both the money and the lives
than to squander them on the hard, bloody soil of the Middle East.