Ten years ago, I was in Texas attending a surprise 40th birthday party for my sister, when it began. Even then, I had a sinking feeling about the Iraq War. The nation was already involved in a war in Afghanistan, which was where, we were told, the people who orchestrated 9/11 were hiding. Iraq, I thought, was a distraction.
But the Bush Administration steadfastly maintained that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed a direct threat to the United States, so it was off to war we went. After all, what did I know, especially when all the polls showed strong support for military intervention?
We were told we would be greeted as liberators, that the war would cost, at most, $50 to $60 billion and that the casualties would be minimal.
A decade later, the price tag for the Iraq War stands at between $1.7 and $3 trillion, depending on who you believe, more than 4,400 military casualties, with another 32,000 wounded in action. Add to that the number of civilians killed, estimated to be over 100,000. Oh and by the way, turns out there were never any weapons of mass destruction. The whole WMD idea was a hoax, perpetrated on a public still reeling from the worst terrorist attack ever carried out on its soil. That mushroom cloud was nothing more than a drug-induced haze.
The simple truth was that we were lied to by an administration that, for some Godforsaken reason, thought it could invade a sovereign country and topple a legitimate, if brutal, government on the cheap and then get out unscathed. Rarely has such a fraud ever been carried out so ineptly.
And while this fraud was being played out, most of the main-stream press and Congress went along for the ride, either cowered by an Administration that resorted to intimidation to get its way, or simply because they were too lazy to do their jobs. Who cares? There is as much blood on their hands as those who gave the orders, as far as I’m concerned.
But while the financial cost to the nation was substantial, the damage to our prestige, not to mention the destabilization the War brought to the region, may prove to be incalculable. Iran has now become a greater threat than Iraq could ever have been. We will have to contend with that threat for years, if not decades.
Then there was Afghanistan, the legitimate war. While the Bush Administration diverted its attention onto the one country that posed no threat to us, Osama bin Laden escaped into Pakistan, where he would hide out until President Barack Obama ordered a Navy Seal team to put a bullet in his head. Way to take your eye off the ball.
There’s no polite way to put it. The Iraq War was one gigantic cluster fuck, one of the worst chapters and lowest points in American history. It will take years for that country and its people to fully recover from the rape and pillage we subjected it to. It will take us a lot longer to put the stench of that memory behind us.