A LIBERAL VIEW OF THINGS: What have we learned from Iraq?

Now that our troops are finally out of Iraq, we must assess what we’ve learned as a people, as an electorate and as a nation.

We must examine what the nearly 5,000 American troops’ lives and the trillion-dollar cost brought us and the world. We also must examine the decisions that precipitated the war and those responsible. From this analysis we will see more clearly our personal mechanisms of our powers of choice when we vote.

Only a few days after our last troops left Iraq, the factions opposing each other for thousands of years are back at it. The Sunnis walked out on the Shia-controlled government. The Kurds and everybody else are threatening each other over territory. Iran has been supplying aid and sending insurgents into Iraq for eight years and might be ready to reap the whirlwind from the vacuum we have left. Meanwhile, some in our government still mouth the bellicosity that got us into this mess in the first place, but this time it’s against Iran.

Is this how our government policies intended to create stability in the Middle East? Do we threaten every nation sitting on oil with installing our brand of democracy by force? Why are we worried about Iran’s nuclear capability? Do we think they are crazy enough to use it on Iraq or Israel and thus seal their fate? There simply are so many ways to miscalculate this situation.

Countries are not obligated to form a democracy like ours. Do you remember how piqued the Bush administration was when the Palestinians elected Hamas as their controlling party in government? They did that democratically. In fact, why would any country want to install a democracy as dysfunctional as ours is today?

I just read David Halberstam’s history of the Korean War, "The Coldest Winter." In it, I see the same bellicosity from so-called congressional leaders and the military that we heard after Sept. 11, 2001. There also were the same kinds of disconnects between politics of the past and the present. The Republicans supported the Nationalist Chinese on Formosa even after that army disintegrated before Mao Tse Tung. Yet, President Harry Truman was correct in holding off the invasion of South Korea by the North and, finally, in stalemating the Chinese so there wouldn’t be World War III.

Truman left office with the lowest approval rating of any president until Richard Nixon.  History, though, proved Truman’s decisions correct. We sacrificed more than 30,000 American soldiers to prevent another world war; what did we prevent by sacrificing more than 4,000 more Americans in the pre-emptive war in Iraq?

How will history define the miscalculations of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and the Neocons? Sure, we eliminated the butcher of Baghdad and killed 100,000 Iraqis, but what did it gain us? Why did our leaders lie?

Let’s hope we the people of the United States have learned to be more selective when we vote. If nothing else, what we should have learned from the Iraq disaster is the voter must be informed to prevent a repeat of the dreadful leadership that precipitated that foolish war.

Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by email at vtgolf@zeecon.com.

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