Monday, May 26, 2008

We Won the War, Time to Get Our People Home Revisited

This article was originally published at on May 17th, 2008

I heard John McCain say that if he was elected president he felt the war in Iraq could be won by the time his first term ended. He also made the claim that most of our troops would be out of Iraq by then. This from the man who not too long ago crowed that he felt fine about keeping our troops in Iraq for a hundred years. This from a man who was heard singing about bombing Iran. Now we’re supposed to believe that Mr. McCain has had a change of heart? I believe that John McCain has shown his support for war and would use any power he could to keep our troops in harms way for just as long as he felt he could get away with it. It seems to me that Mr. McCain is obsessed with winning. Perhaps I’m wrong, but if I’m not than perhaps Mr. McCain would show his concern for our soldiers and bring them home if he had a change in perception.

I’m tired of hearing that if we left Iraq now we’d lose the war in Iraq. We already won the war in Iraq. It’s just a matter of the politicians admitting it. We wiped out the Iraqi army in next to no time. We removed Saddam Hussein from power. He was tried for crimes against humanity and hung. His children were killed in a firefight. We found no weapons of mass destruction. Our people have been there for over five years and there’s still no sign of these alleged weapons. Democracy reigns in Iraq and elections have been held. All the goals that were given as reasons for going into Iraq have been met. The war is over. We were victorious. It’s now just a matter of getting our people home.

Whatever is going on in Iraq it is certainly not a war. I’d call it an occupation. Throughout history, occupations have always gone badly. Certainly empires who have occupied foreign lands for long periods of time have reveled in glory, but it has always been bloody glory. It seems the occupiers in such situations take an almost perverse, sadistic joy in subjugating a once proud, independent people. The occupiers enjoy an orgy of barbaric acts that would be unacceptable in civilized society and remain unaccountable for such actions. For the occupied, the brutality is unmerciful, and in many cases unforgivable. History as taught in schools, recorded for the most part by the victors, has a tendency to gloss over the brutal nature of such occupations and glorify the achievements and the “good” that has come out of empires. Yet even from ancient times stories of the evil that empires create against humanity lead out and remain in the human consciousness.

Take the Roman Empire, for instance. It’s the empire most of us are familiar with. For hundreds of years they occupied most of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and much of Western Europe. History teaches us that the Romans brought “civilization” to the multitudes. They created advances in roads, water supply, sanitation, record keeping, architecture, etc. But they were also vicious oppressors to those they ruled over. And who’s to say that these advances in technology wouldn’t have come along anyway, perhaps through trade and cooperation, if the Roman people had been more peaceful and friendly and less lustful for conquest and power over others? Who’s to say how many geniuses from other cultures the Romans killed that may have given mankind even better technologies? We will never know. Things happened as they did and we can never be certain of the what ifs. We can only know for certain what history records, and that is that the Roman Empire eventually fell. Despite its power, despite its dominion over so many, despite its technological superiority, despite its good intentions and its vastness, it fell to the hordes that it sought to subjugate and lost control of all the lands it sought to occupy. Such is the fate of all brutal empires.

Yet John McCain promises us he will continue a policy that has failed historically and will continue to fail. He promises to have only most American troops out of Iraq by the end of his first term, not all, and he promises to win something that is not winnable without the grotesque and morally objectionable genocide of the Iraqi people. This occupation has already lasted far too long. I ask, why is it that sixty three years ago we could win a war against two far more powerful enemies in less than four years? Why should it take so much longer, another four years at least if Mr. McCain is elected, to bring our troops home from a small desert country with such a weaker enemy? The answer could be that in World War II we were fighting against the occupiers. We had the peoples of occupied countries on our side, treating us as liberators. That was how it was to be for Iraq also, or so we were told. And perhaps in the beginning some in Iraq did treat the Americans as liberators, but it is different now. We have over stayed our welcome and it is time we left and let the Iraqis deal with their own affairs.

We won the Iraq war. It was a glorious, unequivocal victory. We squandered what could have been another great moment in United States history by attempting a heavy handed, oppressive occupation. At the end of World War II we were able to occupy our enemies’ lands because they accepted their defeat and were able to accept the hand of friendship that America offered to help them rebuild their countries and their lives. It is obvious the people of Iraq do not accept our presence in their country. They want us out. They will continue to kill our troops so long as we continue to maintain an occupation force inside their borders. They will continue to try to drive out the American troops even if it takes hundreds of years. We should leave willingly. We no longer need to play the role of occupier. We should let them build their future on their own. Hopefully as the years pass and we continue to trade and practice fair commerce with the people of Iraq, we will become fast friends and great trade partners. After all, America has a great history of diplomacy also. We should heed Thomas Jefferson’s advice and practice free trade with all nations, entangling alliances with none.

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