Sunday, December 18, 2011

Over and Out

It started March 20, 2003 and came to a merciful conclusion today, and in between it cost the lives of more than 4,500 American soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians. It destroyed one country, emboldened another and badly destabilized a region that was already on the brink even before it started.

At long last George Bush’s fraudulent, immoral and illegal war is over. And while the cost for waging it – estimated to be around a trillion dollars – will never be recouped, the United States can finally begin to turn the page on one of the worst chapters in its existence. We can never undo the damage we did, not only to Iraq but to our reputation, but hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and never again allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into an unlawful invasion over flimsy intelligence and outdated methods.

Already the neocons are plotting our next incursion into a Middle Eastern country. Iran is in their sights. Their pursuit of nuclear power has them all worried at the Pentagon and they are once more pounding on the war drums in the march of freedom and liberation. The temptation to act will be great for the foe this time is real and the threat precarious.

But, tempting though it may be to resort to a military solution, the nation must resist the urge to flex its muscles; it must look to other, less costly alternatives. The United States has overextended itself into a region that loathes us and has grown tiresome of our dog and pony show.

It is time for a new, bolder foreign policy; one which doesn’t retreat from a clear and present danger, but instead thinks outside the box. The Libyan War was a case study in how to prosecute a successful action. Compare and contrast Libya with Iraq. Both countries had ruthless dictators who murdered their own people and both were despised by the Muslim community. Iraq cost a trillion dollars and thousands of U.S. lives; Libya two billion and a handful of casualties. And yet to some Libya was a failure because we didn’t go in guns a blazin’ and light up the joint. Instead we left the lion’s share of the conflict to the Libyan people and because of that decision, Libya can now chart a new course free from American intervention.

This should be our goal: a Middle East that is free and independent from any outside influence, especially us. We simply can no longer afford to be the world’s cop on the beat, not with a crumbling infrastructure and a mountain of debt to tend to.

It is time to finally honor our dead and the best way to do that is to ensure that we will no longer needlessly send them into battle without a justifiable reason and a sound and sensible strategy for bringing them back safely.

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