Main | Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years In Iraq

Five fucking years.
When U.S. President George W. Bush launched Stealth bombers at Saddam Hussein's regime on March 19, 2003, five years ago today, roughly 60 per cent of Americans backed the war. Most were convinced Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Most believed he had ties to Osama bin Laden, their 9/11 nemesis. And most felt sure Iraqi democracy would rise phoenix-like and strong from the cinders.

Those certainties have long since been exploded. In the twilight of the failed Bush presidency Americans are left contemplating a ruinous $3 trillion bill, by Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz's reckoning, for a war former defence secretary Don Rumsfeld breezily predicted would cost $60 billion. Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died. And U.S. credibility internationally has suffered a devastating blow. Iraqis, meanwhile, mourn 151,000 violent deaths by their own government's estimate, as they struggle amid "tears and blood" to patch together the broken political pieces, rebuild a civil administration and economy, bring home millions of refugees, and fend off a stubborn insurgency.

Despite the fears the Bush administration fanned at the United Nations before attacking Iraq, there never was a pressing need for war, beyond Bush's demand for "regime change" in an "axis of evil" state. And most Canadians and much of the world knew it. The UN inspectors were right. Saddam had long since given up his nuclear, biological and chemical ambitions. Nor did he have the ties Washington claimed with the 9/11 attackers, who were Saudis for the most part

Finally, while Iraq's new democracy led by President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is incomparably better than Saddam's murderous Baathist autocracy, it is also fractious, unstable and weak. It has yet to agree on laws to hold Kurdish, Sunni and Shia regions together in some kind of federation, or on a plan to fairly divvy up Iraq's oil revenues. Many Iraqis now live in mortal fear of a U.S. military pullout, anarchy, and the breakup of their nation.
The NY Times has an excellent photo timeline of the war.

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