The war’s over, why aren’t we happy?

Well, the Iraq War is over (click). Whoopee! Yay! Everyone sing “When Johnny Comes Marching Home!”

Or not.

“Not” seems to be the operative word here. The War in Iraq is officially over, only half a dozen or so years after President Bush declared it more or less over. That jerk.

The silence of the victory bands is deafening. Tell flight suit boy to go land on another carrier, maybe that will do it.

But what did we expect? We invaded a country that didn’t attack us, using trumped up charges that that country might, somehow, maybe, could possibly pose a risk to us because of threatening “weapons of mass destruction,”  but am I the only one who wondered what was up when they showed us a picture of a rickity model airplane-looking thing and told us that was how poison gas was going to be delivered to our shores?

Then they told us to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting because those evil terrorists were everywhere and very clever little fellows. Why did they tell us that? People afraid will approve anything, however stupid. Josef Goebbels said so, and he should know.

I had the pleasure of covering the anti-war protestors who stood, daily, in front of the Ogden Municipal building so very long ago. People in cars would honk and wave — sometimes with whole hand, sometimes with single fingers. Young men would scream their bloodlust.

It was a time of futile gestures all around — the war was coming, Bush had decided, it would happen, it only mattered when. Nobody in government gave a rat’s patookus what we, the people felt. The fix was in.

And Bush had to go and do it on my birthday, too, only one of many offenses for which I will never forgive him.

I covered the “shock and awe” thing, following the children of a few local families who were in the “Saints and Sinners” Marine Corps reserve unit, made up of kids from Utah and Nevada. Remember them? I dreaded the assigment because it could mean doing a story on some local kid who got killed, and some came very close in that first rush.

They got lucky, I got lucky.

Since then, of course, we’ve had dozens, hundreds, go over and fight, and a few killed. It is tempting to say we were lucky it was only a few, but say that to the families of those who got killed. They went and fought and died while the rest of us were told to go shopping.

And what did we win?

No clue. The war was sold on the promise that the troops would be home by Christmas and Iraq would be the key to democracy flowering in the Middle East with enough oil to pay us back with interest. Well, they are home by Christmas, just Christmas of 2011, not 2003. Iraqi oil hasn’t allowed Iraq to pay us back anything. We spent a trillion dollars over there, and counting, and I’ve seen some lovely T-shirts, but little else.

Yeah yeah, I know, we killed the evil Saddam Hussein. Whoopy-do. One evil dictator down, several dozen to go. Bush will go to his grave insisting Saddam’s removal was worth it all.

But if Democracy is flowering over there, it is a stunted little runt of a plant surrounded by thorn bushes.

What did we expect? You don’t take political beliefs that took 400 years to develop here, haul them over to a country that hasn’t known anything even remotely like them in 2000 years, and expect them to take hold just like that.

The Republicans — Romney for one — are criticizing Obama for us not staying in Iraq longer, for not solidifying the “victory,” whatever that means, but I can’t help but notice none of these people demanding a longer war are pushing their own children into the ranks to carry guns and dodge IEDs.

Romney, in 2008, said his kids were serving their country by working for his election, a hollow sort of patriotism, at best.

I also don’t hear them saying anything about raising taxes to pay for a longer war. These same budget fiscal “realists,” who scream to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because we’re broke, think you can go buy a war andnot worry about the cost at all.

Bush paid for the war with the nation’s Visa card — he didn’t even have the honesty to put it into the budget; the entire war during Bush’s tenure was paid for as an off-budget “emergency” appropriation, a fiction that also allowed Bush to keep his own massive deficit smaller than it really was. Obama — silly man — ended the fiction and is now criticized by those same Republicans for raising the national deficit.

Obama said history will judge, and it will. Of course, if we look back and it’s another mess again — an exceedingly likely possibility — it will all be Obama’s fault, whereas if it turns out well it will all be Bush’s vision. Heads I win, tails you lose.

I’m just glad it’s over, and wish that exercise in futility we call the war in Afghanistan were as well.

Any time, President Obama. Tomorrow would be fine, today even better. We’re in that one 10 years, and still counting.

To those who say “we have to win because otherwise terrorists will invade us next,” or some equally foolish sentiment: Consider Vietnam.

During that mess we were told we were protecting America from communism, if we don’t fight the commies there we’ll have to fight them here, if we don’t stop them there they’ll spread all over and end up here and blah blah blah.

We did lose, the commies did win,and what happened?

Nothing. Now they’re our good buddies in commercial trade, complete with Most Favored Nation trading status.

I need to check but I think my underwear is made there.




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9 Responses to The war’s over, why aren’t we happy?

  1. Mikeasell says:

    Its not over. We are still in the same conflict, we are now only in Afghanistan, duh.

  2. Owain says:

    We should be happy that Obama limps out of Iraq, having lost Iraq through inept diplomatic bungling?

    I suspect that Obama’s mishandling of Iraq will mean that we we will eventually have to go back, yet again.

    • ctrentelman says:

      Mr. Kruthammer’s condemnation of Obama’s “failure” to negotiate a new “status of forces” agreement with the soverign nation of Iraq is rather ethnocentric.

      If some nation were stationing troops in our country, and insisted that those troops be allowed to operate without fear of facing our laws if those troops went wild and killed 24 of our people including children and old people and wheelchairs, how do you think Mr. Kruthammer would react?

      Being a staunch conservative and Republican, I suspect he would condemn such an agreement as an abrogation of American freedom.

      The Iraqi government has taken precisely that stand. Everyone likes to say “well, in war civilians get hurt and killed,” but murder is murder and the Iraqi people are justifiably touchy at the idea that their people might be murdered in cold blood and the killer’s given a free pass.

      When the war started one of the commentors at the Post or Times, I forget which, said Iraq would only be free if it threw us out.

      In that regard, I look at it standing up to us now and demanding its own laws be enforced as a good thing, however you care to look at the rest of the situation.

      • Owain says:

        Get back with me when we find ourselves over there again, and we can compare notes on whether it might have been preventable or not. Maybe a Democrat will be in the White House, so next time you’ll be OK with that.

  3. hawg says:

    you unending bitterness is going to make you sick charles, it can’t be healthy

  4. Carol Sullivan says:

    Thank you, Charlie, for reminding us where we’ve been these past eight years. What suckers we were for believing the “smoking gun” line. For cheering as our esteemed congress people waged valiant food fights in the House cafeteria in order to rename french fries “freedom fries” to spite France for opposing the Iraq invasion. For thinking we were doing our patriotic duty by attaching American flags to our jeeps and Hummers, as if we were all little generals parading down the freeways. For allowing Cheney to pretend that torturing detainees was really only having an intense conversation. For nodding as Bush insisted that the 9-11 terrorist attack was a result of “their envy” of our freedom and that the war on terror was going to make us a lot safer (not to mention making Halliburton and Eric Prince a lot richer!). Thanks alot, Charlie! Maybe now we can get on with having a similar party in Iran. I can hardly wait.

  5. efialtis says:

    I am still trying to figure out how we can END a war that we never officially BEGAN?
    I don’t remember the Declaration of War being sent through Congress…

    Or did I miss that?

  6. Owain says:

    Bills were passed by both houses of Congress, and signed by the President authorizing military action. That satisfies the Constititutional requirement granted to Congress to “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;” There is no defined format, to my knowledge, necessary for a ‘Declaration of War’. If the congress grants authorization for military action, and the President signs and act upon that approval, that is sufficient for the country to go to war. Involvement may be limited, as in Panama or Grenada, or it may require large scale mobilization, as in WWI or WWII.

  7. DDalton says:

    That was a good piece. The only thing that I’d add is we’d better be paying attention to the current rhetoric re Iran. It looks like they’ve dusted off the old scripts and done a global find/replace, substituting terminal Ns for Qs.

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