This should be a day of celebration upon U.S. exit from Iraq, at least for those who have dear ones fighting in Iraq. Still, I am in no mood for this sort of thing as I am bitterly disappointed over the President’s position on Iraq war. Obama is right that Iraq war has been a huge waste of money and lives when domestic needs are screamingly urgent. He wanted to keep his promise and stop this senseless waste. However, there is a sense of something not right in his speech, and he gave the impression that he stopped Iraq war mainly out of economic concern, totally void of any sense of justice, as if money is all he cares. One step further, if America were not in this desperate economic shape, he would not withdrawn the troops.
I don’t understand this. How could he fail to understand this simple fact — the war was absurdly waged on the assumption of the existence of the weapon of mass destruction. Since WMDs were not found, let’s just go home. If he understood it, why didn’t he say, “The war kills so many innocent lives who are as valuable as my dear daughters. It is morally wrong and unjustified!” Mistake made, time for correction. Why did he have to beautify the brutal acts of invasion, mass-killing and bombing with the lofty claim of building democracy and freedom for Iraqis.
Here are some basic facts about this war that should go down U.S. history —
Name of the war: “Operation Iraqi Freedom”
Start date: 19 March 2003.
Justification: existence of WMD
Place: oil rich land
(1) Loss of human lives, 4,421 US soldiers died, Iraqi civilian deaths, by month, according to IBC (Iraq Body Count), there have been between 97,568 and 106,466 civilian deaths up to July 2010. The Lancet journal in 2006 published an estimate of 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths related to the war of which 601,027 were caused by violence.
(2) Money squandered: according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, the US will have spent almost $802bn on funding the war by the end of fiscal year 2011, with $747.6bn already appropriated. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard’s Linda Bilmes put the true cost at $3 trillion once additional impacts on the US budget and economy are taken into account.
(3) War always creates a large army of displaced people and refugees. According to International Organization of Migration (IOM), U.S.-led war against Iraq displaced over 1.6 million Iraqis, 5.5% of the population, some skilled workers and professionals leaving the war-torn land for anywhere they could find security.
(4) Leaving behind a land totally devastated, ripped through by civil wars, a true Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, far away from the end of the long tunnel of dark miseries, insecurity and instability of the region.
(5) This unlawful invasion into another sovereign state severely tarnished the image of the United States as a nation of Peace Corps established by JFK. Instead, it exposed to the world the true color of an invader.
(6) Bringing home tens of thousands of war-wounded and traumatized U.S. soldiers, whose young hearts and souls have been thoroughly ravished by the bloody killing experience at war.
The only almost sensible comment that Obama made was this — the strength and the position of a nation in the world are maintained not only through invasion of others but also through its economic soundness. The latter is what U.S. needs at this moment. It takes a historian with true courage and integrity to tell future generations what accurately happened during those most shameful years in American history.