March 20, 2003: Operation Iraqi Freedom Ten Years On…
Tomorrow marks the 10th Anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.
At least, that is how we blandly refer to it –if we refer to at all: The Iraq War. The years seem to flicker by, like an old misaligned Super 8 movie reel, where each frame is momentarily visible.
Then it is gone.
Such were the early years of the brand-new century. The Year 2000 now seems so long-ago, so quaint. The Two Thousands began with a manufactured panic that the grid would collapse on “Y2K”– but, soon the angst devolved into the butt of late-night TV jokes. And life went on apace.
Of course, we were slapped into cold, hard reality on September 11th, 2001. It was a day that at once changed everything, but exposed a paralyzing stasis all at the same time.
In the early weeks that followed that numbingly horrific day, it seemed there were boogie-men and goblins around every gloomy corner: Right after the attacks, letters dusted with anthrax spores showed up in Post Offices in New Jersey, in the newsrooms of the big networks, and even in Tom Daschle’s office. Five folks died in rapid succession.
The toxin and it’s substrate seemed to point to Saddam Hussein.
A plane dropped out of the sky in early November into the streets of Far Rockaway New Jersey, and nearly 280 people in the plane and on the ground died in the ensuing fire. The NTSB ruled it “pilot error”, but questions remain to this day. Less than a year later, John Allen Mohammed started randomly shooting at people around suburban Washington in an attempt to kindle a chaotic Jihad in America, and managed to kill ten innocent people before he wast stopped.
And, Saddam was stonewalling the UN, poking the eyes of The West. He continued to shoot at our planes in the humorously-named “no fly zone”.
The world has changed so much. Islamic Extremism was isolated to CNN and Bruce Willis movies. Now it was everywhere. And everyone that voted for Al Gore suddenly seemed very relieved that their man lost the election a scant ten or twelve months before. George W. Bush climbed atop the rubble of the World Trade Center, with his Radio Shack bullhorn, and his presidency was never the same. His approval rating hovered above 80%. And it stayed there for months and months.
Many sentient observers thought the whole damned Middle-east was a swirling cauldron of violence and ignorance and petty, centuries-old grievances that ought to be turned to glass, and quickly. Plus, it was a target-rich environment for the world’s lone super-power– a super-power that was now searching for bloody-handed culprits. Even that old villain Yasser Arafat started sweating when we looked in his direction, and headed for the local Red Cross to have his picture taken giving blood for 9-11 victims.
Nobody was impressed.
Saddam Hussein, of course, was hiding out in the sands of Araby, looking more and more like the conniving liar the world know him to be. He said little when the Towers collapsed; but, he seemed pleased that it took only a few box-cutters and ballsy, jacked-up Saudis to give Uncle Sam a bruising.
Of course, it had been official Policy of the United States Government to remove Saddam from power since 1998 with the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, (which had been signed by that notorious John Wayne-impersonator President Bill Clinton). Suddenly, it seemed that “regime change” might really morph from a pansy-ass parlor-discussion to active consideration under Cowboy Bush.
Still, Saddam chested his cards, and bided his time. With nearly 70% of the American People in at least partial favor of invading Iraq, though, George Bush knew speaking softly to all the transnational gab-fests might well yield to the big stick of Donald Rumsfeld’s DoD soon enough–and with the righteous anger of the People he led.
And thus it did.
On March 20th, 2003, after two Congressional authorizations –and much endless twaddle at the United Nations– The United States 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit broached the Iraqi frontier. In matched bookend-style, a little over a year later, United States Army Task Force 121 stuck its long arm into a spider-hole near Tikrit, and yanked the hilariously un-coiffed visage of Saddam Hussein out into the bright desert sun.
The regime had indeed been “changed”.
The effort of our mighty armed forces, our grim warriors, our National Heroes, was enormous. Hundreds of thousands of lives and families were disrupted, loved ones yanked from Home and Hearth. Dust and mud and fear and privation was tempered by Duty and Bravery and Training. The United States, once again, called upon it’s fighting men and women to pull up stakes, pack a few things, and head to another third-world hell-hole half-way around the globe. They fought magnificently, and once again, America owes them a debt it cannot repay.
But, also once again, Politics trumped Honor, and the wheels started to fall off.
After 4,486 gold stars, over 35,400 Purple Heart citations, and nearly $1 trillion in American treasure, though, what was accomplished? Recently, the newly-minted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hegel called the Iraqi Invasion the most “serious foreign policy blunder in fifty years”. Not that Chuck Hegel is a foreign policy genius, mind you. And any SecDef that says such things about the sacrifice of the warriors whom are now his sworn charges is utterly un-worthy of the office. But, there he sits.
Of course, the fact that now this absolute moron– a loathsome anti-Semite who saddles cozily with the Islamo-Nazi regime in Tehran– sits in the office of the Secretary of Defense, DOES beg the question: Was Iraq a Foreign Policy Blunder? If all of the effort to establish a sane nation-state that nominally thinks of itself as self-determinative in the very heart of the Middle East… only results in Harry Reid in charge of the Senate, John Kerry in as Head Hippie at Foggy Bottom, Chuck Hegel running the Defense Department, and Barack Obama in the White House, one must ask:
Was it worth it?
After being self-consciously whip-sawed by the nation and the Republican majority in 2002, many Democrats voted for the Iraq War Resolutions (in fact, the second such vote was conducted mostly as a fig-leaf for recalcitrant Dems to pound their chests about what tough guys THEY were on National Defense, too!)– but, at the first whiff of “quagmire”, the reflexively American Military-hating bubbled to the top of the Democrat Party, and they soon were in full Jane Fonda mode. It should be noted that Chuck Hegel himself voted for the foreign policy he now defines as a “blunder”. So, too, did Hillary Clinton and John Edwards
The weirdly strident Governor Howard Dean (who most people didn’t know from Howard the Duck at the time) started making a name for himself as the over-caffeinated Eugene McCarthy of the 2004 Presidential Season: This War Sucks, George Bush Sucks, America Sucks. Old Howard hit all the right notes for the patchouli-oiled and grizzled community-college professorial-set that makes up the core of Democrat primary voters, and soon his campaign coffers were stuffed with cash.
Democrat Presidential Primary Candidates, being a creative lot, soon joined the Howard Dean chorus. And the American Media, lapdogs forever for the statist left, joined in on the refrain: This War Sucks, George Bush Sucks, America Sucks…
Instead of subduing Iraq in a few short weeks, giving it some obedience lessons like MacArthur did in Occupied Japan, we thought we’d be hailed a liberators, rather than as fair-weather warriors. Iraqi memories being rather longer than American ones, they recalled with anguish how quickly we’d bugged out of Iraq in 1991, and left Kurdistan to the tender mercies of Saddam. Americans, liberators..? Really? And Iraq slowly decended into chaos.
Now, in former years at about this stage of a war, Teddy Roosevelt would have said “Bully!”, the boys would have joined up, we would have kicked some butt, taken some names, and told the world to go eff itself. Instead we sat at home, listened to John Kerry drone on and on about Haditha, and knitted wool over Abu Grab and Iraqi Men in pink panties. Yeesh.
And some Illinois back-bencher state senator no one had ever heard of (beyond, that is, his immediate circle of domestic terrorist friends, assorted coke dealers and pot-heads) found himself in high dudgeon.
So, I ask again: In the context of Barack Obama, was Iraq worth it?
We often talk about the unintended consequences of a larded-up piece of Gawd-Awful legislation, like Obamacare, or Dodd-Frank. But, what of the unintended consequences of war? If I had tapped many of you on the shoulder and said, ten years hence, that George Bush would leave office in disgrace in 2008, leaving Iraq barely stable and the economy in free-fall, and that his departure would result in the election of the most radical leftist president ever, would you be as supportive of the invasion as you were? I have my doubts.
And this is the damnable fruit of the foul Obama harvest: The awe-inspiring sacrifice of our Mighty Warriors — the blood, the steely determination in the face of unspeakable horror and fear, the life-altering wounds, the familial burdens and loneliness– all for what, exactly? We owe our Warriors so much more than this bitter, disgusting legacy: That we should have such flip disregard for their efforts that we send them to fight our wars, while we go shopping, and only turn our backs on them when we tire of seeing their blood on ABC News.
And then, to top it off, we replace their Commander in Chief with the most disgusting, cowardly, self-satisfied, lazy leftists we can find– a leftist that stuffs a tyrannical health-care law down our throats for our cheek. He’ll teach us a lesson for thinking America is so strong, so great.
On this, the 10th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq, I invite each of us to consider the war in the context of our Time. Pause and say a heartfelt, loving prayer for our warriors and their families. They have sacrificed so much. And, on their behalf, think of them the next time we seem so eager to send them to war– and remember the fight is just as crucial for them back here at home. If I were them, and I thought of how it all devolved into the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, I would be sickened. I would be sickened by how little regard the American people had for their own nation that I’d sacrificed so much to defend.