The invasion of Iraq was the most bungled action of a generally incompetent administration. Indeed, George Bush will probably go down as one of the most failed presidents in the nation's history. His administration has had one of the most lackluster economic recoveries in modern times. It's a recovery that has increased the profits of corporations and wealthy investors while failing to provide good jobs or benefit the middle class at all. It's the most profoundly anti-science administration in modern times. And nowhere has its bias for ignoring facts in favor of its cherished ideological fantasies hurt us more than in our foreign policy and national security.
First of all, its intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, which was the original reason for invading Iraq, was completely wrong. I doubt many Americans would ever have supported an invasion if not for the compelling case that the Bush Administration laid out that Saddam Hussein was close to having nuclear capability and the means to deliver deadly weapons to his targets. Not only was that not true, but there also were no chemical weapons and no sophisticated biological weapons. The Bush Administration cherry picked its intelligence sources to get exactly what it wanted to hear. Indeed, even before 9/11, according former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, the Administration was obssessed with finding a way to invade Iraq.
Bush, for reasons of his own, wanted desperately to find a link between Hussein and the al Queda terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center. Even when it was proven that the link wasn't there, various Administration spokesmen insisted on insinuating a tendentious linkage between the two.
After finally being forced to admit the WMDs were not there (they still have not given up linking Hussein to 9/11 even though most people now know that's not true either), the Administration's fall back was that America invaded Iraq to create a secular, democratic government for Iraqis, which would be a model for the many failed Arab states in the region. Well, like most things on a desert, a liberal, secular Western style democracy isn't exactly blooming there either.
Here's the money quote from today's Washington Post article:
"The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.
" 'What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground,' said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning.'
"But the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.
"Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.
"U.S. officials say no turning point forced a reassessment. 'It happened rather gradually,' said the senior official, triggered by everything from the insurgency to shifting budgets to U.S. personnel changes in Baghdad.
"The ferocious debate over a new constitution has particularly driven home the gap between the original U.S. goals and the realities after almost 28 months. The U.S. decision to invade Iraq was justified in part by the goal of establishing a secular and modern Iraq that honors human rights and unites disparate ethnic and religious communities.
"But whatever the outcome on specific disputes, the document on which Iraq's future is to be built will require laws to be compliant with Islam. Kurds and Shiites are expecting de facto long-term political privileges. And women's rights will not be as firmly entrenched as Washington has tried to insist, U.S. officials and Iraq analysts say.
This indeed is consistent with reports we've been receiving since last week from other major media articles about the failure of the Iraqis to support a constitution modeled on secular Western values.
In fact, as this piece from The New York Times earlier in the week shows, America's defeat of Saddam Hussein has brought more chaos to Iraq and danger to America than during Hussein's reign. A radical Shiite faction ousted the secular mayor of Baghdad, replacing him with a religious leader who is most noted for forcing women to wear veils.
As the reasons for our incursion into Iraq keep changing from finding weapons of mass destruction to avenging the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks to building a secular democracy, there is also word that still another radical Shiite clerical leader is opposed to the constitution because he favors an autonomous Shiite region in southern Iraq. So, it's safe to say that none of our strategic goals have been met in this region. Our military and political efforts have all failed.
In addition to the fact that the Administration completely misread how dangerous "nation building" would be in Iraq, Bob Hebert of The New York Times criticizes the Bush Administration in this article for failing to provide an exit strategy and for essentially remaining clueless to the great tragedy that this war has caused as the casualties are ramped up by the day.
Hebert's main point is that, like the war in Vietnam years ago, cluelesss leaders have failed miserably to achieve any known goal and the American people are rapidly turning against the Iraqi military action. Hebert knows that it is shameful to send American soldiers to die for a cause that this country is not willing to support. And it is worse to not have an exit strategy.
Not only have the Bushies mismanaged the war, failed in all their strategic objectives, and neglected to provide an exit strategy that would protect American lives, even worse, they have gone after the wrong enemy in the first place, and made us all more unsafe for it.
The truth is if you want to defeat radical Islamist extremists, you have to go to the heart and soul of their movement. And that never was Iraq. Deposing the Taliban from Afghanistan was a good start. But we've even lost interest in aiding that nation, which, after all, is the country that harbored the al Queda group that attacked us. The Karzai regime needs economic and military assistance. And we've failed to finish the job there where there was a far more logical case for military intervention in the first place.
But to really defeat radical Islamists you must go to Saudi Arabia. The vast majority of the terrorists, thus far, have come from there. Most of the inflammatory clerics also are from that country. Saudi Arabia has exported the madrassas - religious schools - that have trained the homegrown terrorists in other countries. And Saudi money still generously funds terrorists and their operations all over the world. Plus - and this is most important - Wahhabbism, the radical form of Islam that fuels the terrorist movement, is a Saudi import. It's not standard Islam but Saudi Islam to start with.
And it now turns out that a huge threat to not only U.S. security but to international safety is looming with Iran's genuine nuclear capability, which unlike our ridiculous claims in pre-war Iraq, actually have been verified by international bodies. But we are now so over committed in Iraq that there is no way we could mount an adequate defense against any Iranian threat. Or, for that matter, the nuclear threat in North Korea.
So while we've wasted an incredible amount of resources and lives in Iraq, we've allowed the countries that harbor and support the real terrorists to flourish. And worse, we've allowed those nations that are a true international nuclear threat to thrive.
What we've done is beyond mere incompetence. It borders on treason.