I am a bit conflicted these days. My feeling about this war are no secret. This Op-Ed piece pretty much says it all in a nutshell.
We are in a War based on a seriese of bad calls. I don't believe that this or any administration would go to war solely for profits or because they are 'evil'. That is an oversimplification. But I do believe in the falability of man. Thousands are dead because Bush thought Iraq was a threat when it wasn't. Despite intelligence that showed it was no threat, we went to war. No country goes to war just because there might be profit in it later, or because their daddy didn't 'finish the job'. You go to war to destroy an enemy before they destroy you. For some reason, Bush was absolutely convinced that Iraq was a threat and gambled that once we were in, the evidence would bare out his hunches. Many leaders have made such gambles. But in this case there was no need to guess. The intel was there. More time was needed, but for some reason Bush felt he had to act quickly. In his rush to prove that he was a good President and was protecting America he had people skew the intel. He ignored contrary evidence. He stepped up bombing raids to provoke Iraq. He sent Colin Powel (a man I used to respect) to the UN to give the bluff more legitimacy. And it was all wrong.
I thought once Americans knew the truth that the political system would correct itself. It didn't and I have NO explanation for this.
Now we are in Iraq. The Downing Street memo states that America had no long term plans in place for what happen after the war and that has proven trajically true. In the run up to the War when did anyone have time to draw up plans on rebuilding a nation? Planning a war is hard enough. Rebuilding a county is an order of magnitude more difficult and is something the military isn't built for. Thank goodness we have Halliburton (the Vice Presidents old company) to help us out.
But we're there now. And most of the soldiers there are doing the best they can to get by. They are trying to help Iraq, which isn't too keen to shake the hand of the people who now fight on their streets, bomb their homes and torture and humiliate their people. Did we liberate Iraq? Yes. Are they better off now? Good question. Saddam was a power mad dictator, but there are plenty of them out there that we don't seem too concerned about.
If we stay, we're a target. We're a symbol that can unite fundementalists against us and the US backed govenment. If we leave the country will fall apart and we will have shown ourselves and our 'pure' intent to have been a lie. It is a no win situation.
Into this mess steps our all volunteer military. They are the ones who have been shafted the worst. They are learning the bitter fact that no conquering army is welcome in a conquered country for very long. They are trying to fight a conventional war against guerrilla forces, which never works. The British learned that in America, the Russians learned that in Afghanistan and we learned it in Vietnam. They were ill equipped and are being kept in beyond completion of their tour of duty because despite all those people with 'I support our troops' magnets on their cars and all the chickenhawks in DC and religious leaders who support this war our military is struggling to maintin its fighting strength. All they can do is keep taking hits. They can beat any force in a stand up fight, but there aren't many of those fights left. We're down to street fighting where tanks are planes are almost useless. When we do use them, we find out that we've wiped out a wedding party, destroyed a Mosque, killed an innocent family. And that endeers us to no one.
I am very glad most of my friends who served are now out. But a few days ago I learned that a friend of mines son will be heading out for service in the National Guard. I had to force myself not to pick up the phone, call them and scream 'What the fuck are you doing?'.
There are many benefits to serving in the military. Job training, learning self reliance and teamwork. Developing character and a hard work ethic. Money for college, medical care and VA loans to help buy a house. But the job of the military is to first and foremost, fight in wars. They are put into harms way. And Iraq has a lot of harm to give.
I don't want to see this kids face flashed on the 10 o'clock news for five seconds while sappy music plays in the background because he got fragged by an IED. I don't want to hear that his unit accidentally killed a family of five at a checkpoint because the car wouldn't stop. I don't want him to loose a leg to a landmine. I don't want him to suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the rest of his life. I don't want him to see his buddy from basic get killed by a car bomb.
There is no draft (yet), no compulsory military service in this country. So despite the failure of the political system, the fact that we volunteer for service might be the thing that stops this war. No Army, no war.