Friday, March 4, 2011

Freedom Is Just Another Word

Distinguished New York Times columnist Charles Krauthammer published an opinion piece in which he credits the recent uprisings in the Middle East to their acceptance of George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda”.  He points out that while Bush was criticized for his intervention in Iraq, the world is now calling upon the US to bring down Moammar Gadhafi. Krauthammer grudgingly acknowledges the argument by some that the price we paid in blood and treasure to establish democracy in Iraq was too high.  But in responding to the argument Krauthammer defends Bush, noting that Iraq is the only functioning democracy in the Arab world.  He closes by saying:” Facebook and Twitter have surely mediated this pan-Arab (and Iranian) reach for dignity and freedom.  But the Bush doctrine set the premise.
Mr. Krauthammer makes some valid points.  But he conveniently sidesteps a number of important facts in order to reach his conclusion.
During the days immediately preceding the implementation of Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign there were no organized, ongoing protests for Saddam to step down.  People were not filling the streets of Baghdad chanting for freedom, democracy or a just day’s pay.  Voices around the world were not calling for US intervention as they are in Libya.  In fact Bush ordered the war on Iraq in spite of NATO’s protestations.  The Iraq war was never about the cry of freedom and dignity, or democracy or the freeing of an oppressed people.  It was about weapons of mass destruction, Saddam’s support of terrorists, the need to keep American safe or securing the continued flow of the lifeblood of our nation…oil.  And to some degree faulty intelligence, revenge or a desire to cement a Presidential legacy may have played a part.  But Bush’s “freedom agenda” was never in the mix.  
The Middle East uprisings that we see today are not the result of some sudden, simultaneous groundswell of acceptance of Bush’s “freedom agenda”.  They are the result of decades of oppression imposed by the very autocrats that the Bush Administration, and those before and after, have supported with billions and billions US taxpayer dollars.  Egypt was the spark and Facebook and Twitter were the conduits.
Naturally the instigators of the nightmare that is the Iraq war see it differently.  Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld have recently penned their own version of revisionist history.  Mr. Cheney’s piece of fiction is soon to follow.  It should make for interesting reading.  One thing is certain; an apology for the incredible cost that Iraq has caused our country will not be forthcoming.
So did we pay too high a price to empower a democratic Iraqi government?  Was it worth it, as Mr. Krauthammer seems to suggest?  You be the judge:

US Casualties – 4,439
US Wounded – 32.033
Percentage of Us troops suffering mental health issues with 3-4 months of returning home – 30%
Iraqi Casualties – the standard estimate is over 100,000 but some sources feel the real number is more like 600,000.
Iraqi’s Displaced – 2,225,000
Iraqi Unemployment Rate – 60%
Iraqi inflation Rate – 50%
Spent & Approved War Spending Through Nov. 2010 - $900 billion US taxpayer dollars.
Lost or Unaccounted For US funds - $9 Billion US taxpayer dollars.
Mismanaged and Wasted funds in Iraq - $10 Billion US taxpayer dollars

....and still counting.....

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