"Shut the Door"

Five years later.

I don’t write a whole lot about the Iraq War for two reasons:
1. It’s the same story day after day after day.
2. It’s just so damn depressing because of reason #1.

But seeing as the fifth anniversary of the war occurred this week, I feel I need to address it. And is it really an anniversary? To me the word ‘anniversary’ implies that the occassion is joyful, something worth celebrating. This event is clearly not.

I remember when the war broke out. I was in my fourth year of university in Regina, and I was sitting in the lounge at Luther with a bunch of the girls from my floor. We were watching President Bush declare war and announce that his troops were now on the ground, Operation Iraqi Freedom commencing as he spoke. The mother of one of the girls was with us, having just dropped off her daughter. Before the live coverage ended, she looked at all of us and said, “You girls remember where you were on this night. This is history.”

It sure as hell is history. Bad history. Even the White House is trying to rewrite what has happened so that it shows the Bush administration in a more positive light. I was watching ‘The Fifth Estate’ tonight (I know, I know – what a way to spend a Friday night) and the documentary was about various things having to do with the Iraq War, from investigating its causes to analyzing media coverage. They showed numerous video clips of President Bush speaking on the war, including the infamous speech on the destroyer where he claimed victory. ‘The Fifth Estate’ pointed out that on the White House’s archive footage of that speech, the ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ banner has mysteriously disappeared…

What does that tell you? It tells you that even the White House, despite its continued optimistic statements about how success is being achieved in Iraq day after day, knows it made a mistake – though it would NEVER admit such a thing (Americans don’t make mistakes, you know).

The problem is that the Bush administration is delusional. I don’t know how else to describe it. Or comprehend its complete and utter lack of understanding of what’s actually happening over there. For example, look at these statements pulled from this week’s speech by President Bush commemorating the fifth anniversary of the war’s beginning stages:

1. “A little over a year ago, the fight in Iraq was faltering.”

2. “The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable.”

3. “In recent months we’ve heard exaggerated estimates of the costs of this

4. “There’s still hard work to be done in Iraq. The gains we have made are fragile and reversible. But on this anniversary, the American people should know that since the surge began, the level of violence is significantly down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down, attacks on American forces are down.”

5. “To allow [a sudden troop withdrawal] to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and make it more likely that America would suffer another attack like the one we experienced that day — a day in which 19 armed men with box cutters killed nearly 3,000 people in our — on our soil; a day after which in the following of that attack more than one million Americans lost work, lost their jobs.”

6. “A free Iraq will fight terrorists instead of harboring them. A free Iraq will be an example for others of the power of liberty to change the societies and to displace despair with hope. By spreading the hope of liberty in the Middle East, we will help free societies take root — and when they do, freedom will yield the peace that we all desire. “

Let’s examine these statements in turn.
1. The battle is still faltering. Despite the considerable surge of troops, Iraq isn’t a whole hell of a lot safer. More on that later.

2. What successes? And for whom? Iraqi women and children are not seeing any benefits of US occupation.

3. Exaggerated costs, huh? Last I heard, the DAILY cost of the Iraq War was $1 BILLION dollars. A BILLION DOLLARS A DAY. And for what? If I was an American right now, I’d be more than a little ticked. My country’s economy is in recession mode, infrastructure is in serious need of repair, and millions don’t have health insurance. I have no problem with foreign aid; I actually believe rich countries have an obligation to help the developing world. But money to finance a war doesn’t count as foreign aid. Sorry.

4. Really? Violence is down? Consider this list of just one day’s violent incidents compiled on March 18 by The Globe and Mail’s Middle East correspondent, Mark MacKinnon:

Inside Baghdad:

1) Just after 7 a.m. a roadside bomb detonated near a police patrol in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansour, killing one policeman and injuring another.
2) Around 9 a.m., just before Mr. Cheney arrived, a Katyusha rocket hit the fortified “Green Zone” in the centre of the city. No casualties were reported.
3) Around 11 a.m., a mortar shell was lobbed into the green zone.
4) Later in the day, a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. convoy exploded in the Zayouna neighbourhood of northeastern Baghdad (a place I visited just last week…), injuring four civilians. Other reports said three people had been killed.
5) Again in Mansour, another roadside bomb targeted a police patrol, but apparently missed its target, injuring a civilian.
6) Around 1 p.m., eight people were killed and 11 others were injured when a boobytrapped minibus exploded in the upscale Karada neighbourhood.
7) Two U.S. soldiers were killed when their Humvee hit a roadside bomb. The soldiers were clearing a road in northern Baghdad when they were killed, the military announced.
8) Around 2 p.m., a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in east Baghdad. Iraqi police reported no casualties.
9) Around 5 p.m., Iraqi army and police found four dead bodies buried in a garden of a deserted house south of Baghdad.
10) Around 6:30 p.m., two mortar shells hit a soccer field near a school in east Baghdad. Five soccer players were killed and 7 were injured.
11) A mortar round killed six children when it landed on their home in the Sawmar
district of northern Baghdad, the Iraqi military said.
12) Iraqi police patrols found seven unknown bodies on Monday that had been dumped in different parts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a police source said.

The rest of the country:

1) U.S. forces killed two al-Qaeda militants and detained four others on Sunday during operations in central Iraq, the U.S. military said.
2) 52 people are killed and 75 others are injured when a female suicide bomber blows herself up in the southern city of Kerbala, near the shrine of Imam Hussein, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.
3) The U.S. consulate in the south-central area of Babel came was targeted by three
Katyusha rockets. No injuries or damage were reported.
4) A policeman was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in central Basra on Monday morning.
5) The Basra morgue received the bullet-riddled body of a woman.
6) Three bodies of fighters belonging to the U.S.-backed neighbourhood police were found two days after they were kidnapped in the town of Udhaim, 100 km north of
Baghdad, police said.
7) Two civilians were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near a convoy of trucks carrying construction materials.
8) A parked car bomb wounded five people, including a policeman, when it blew up near a police patrol in the northern city of Mosul, police said. Gunmen and police had reportedly clashed shortly before the explosion.
9) Five mortar bombs landed, wounding two people in central Mosul.
10) A policeman was killed when unidentified gunmen attacked an Iraqi police checkpoint in central Haditha city, 170 km west of Ramadi.

And the best quote by MacKinnon:

If this has been a successful endeavour, I’m terrified – for Iraq’s sake –
of what a failure looks like.

No sh*t.

5. Possibly my favourite statement of them all. For what I’m sure won’t be the last time, let me repeat: the majority of the September 11th hijackers were SAUDI ARABIAN. Basing the Iraq invasion on ‘war on terror’ auspices is asinine. I continue to ask: why aren’t we invading Saudi Arabia? Oh yeah. They’re American allies. And we don’t invade our allies (like *cough* Pakistan *cough* – even though Pakistan’s refusal to crackdown on terrorist organizations is part of the reason Canadian casualties in southern Afghanistan continue to climb. Oh well.). I continue to be stupefied by this logic, or rather, lack thereof. Iraq ain’t the problem, folks. Oh, and I forgot about the fear-mongering. They’re still trying to scare Americans into supporting the war.

6. For a very short period of time, I believed the Iraq War was based on oil and nothing more. Thankfully I got my sanity back and realized that while oil is a nice side benefit, the reasons behind invading Iraq are a whole hell of a lot more complicated. Does it have something to do with avenging the 1991 Gulf War? Sure. Does it have to do with asserting American power and influence in the Middle East? Of course. But a huge part of the reasoning has to do with this weird right-wing conservative belief that making Iraq a democracy will inevitably cause the people of Iran, Syria and company to rise up and create democracies of their own. It’s a nice thought. It really is. And I appreciate it. But it just shows how little Americans understand the Middle East. Their governmental systems are deeply interlinked with religion and culture, which makes a democratic system pretty freaking hard to implement. Is it impossible? No. But it will take generations to embed the type of values that are implicit in democracy into a people whose personal belief systems run completely counter. And invading countries illegally under international law doesn’t exactly give democracy a good name.

So there you have it. Five years later and the rhetoric hasn’t changed. The White House continues to frame the Iraq War as “necessary, noble and just” when it is clearly none of those things.

And President Bush continues to be President, despite lying to those who elected him about his reasons for invading Iraq and directly causing the deaths of almost 4000 American soliders and tens of thousands of Iraqis. How is he still president? How is it that a president can directly lie to the American people about a war that was misguided at best, completely selfish at worst, and not be impeached, while another president has sex with an intern, which really has no real effect on the day-to-day affairs of a country except that it sells papers, and is almost turfed from the Oval Office. I just don’t understand.

Iraq continues to be a quagmire. A joke. A f*cking disaster.

Heaven help us all.

1 comment
  1. Joel said:

    I would like to know how 9/11 led to the loss of 1 million jobs in the U.S.? I don’t think the World Trade Centre housed that many people.

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