The “mushroom cloud” quote was used by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Richard Cheney and it was instrumental in selling the American people this deadly lie. We don’t elect presidents to assume anything when it comes to decisions of war.
On Friday, Obama explained, “As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end – for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. Last year, I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq. And to date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops. Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security. A few hours ago I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over. Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq – tens of thousands of them – will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home.”
The announcement did not prompt a single press release or comment from the Hoosier delegation.
The irony here is that former Vice President Cheney charged Obama with a “rush for the exit,” adding, “I’ve got a problem with it.” What about that rush to the entrance and the malfeasance the Bush-Cheney team used in taking circumstantial intelligence and using it to get the war drums beating?
Then there was U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham who charged that Obama policy on “Iraq and Afghanistan is being run out of Chicago, not Washington, in terms of decisions.” Graham added, “ When your military commander, whom I trust, says you need 15,000 to 18,000 in 2012 to secure the gains we have fought for and you have zero and you celebrate that, that’s pretty disappointing.”
The riveting events of 2011 amplify this ignominious fool’s errand.
We’ve watched the Arab Spring topple dictators and despots from Tunisia to Egypt, with Syria’s Bashar Assad teetering in a deadly civil war. With Qaddafi dead in Libya, that same fate could have taken out Saddam.
We’ve watched the Kurds in southeastern Turkey work to destabilize that vital ally from across the Iraq frontier. We’ve watched the true nuclear threats – Iran and Pakistan – become more antagonistic, with Iran’s sphere of influence spreading west into Iraq. In the case of Iran, apparently the United States and Israel have had considerable success in battling that rogue nuclear program with computer viruses instead of young Americans.
And we’ve watched the U.S. budget deficits balloon to $1.3 trillion. Now considering that the Afghanistan and Iraq missions have cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion, it’s no wonder we face the budget dilemmas that have Gov. Daniels warning us of the new “Red Menace.”
Just like the Vietnam War did a generation ago, another casualty is the average American’s faith in their own government.
The New York Times/CBS Poll released on Wednesday revealed “Americans’ distrust of government is at its highest level ever.” Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress. You can almost certainly trace this distrust to the decisions made a decade ago.
If Obama has made unfortunate decisions when it comes to these ground wars, it was to continue the Afghanistan war. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said last week, “If fighting starts between Pakistan and the U.S., we are beside Pakistan. If Pakistan is attacked and the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”
Karzai’s quote is an infuriating outrage to the ultimate sacrifice thousands of Americans have made.
When it comes to protecting our interests, we have loyal allies like Kuwait where we can keep an eye on the Persian Gulf. We have Predator drones which can track down terrorists. We have CIA agents with suitcases full of millions of dollars who can buy the warlord intel we need in the Land of the Death of Empires. We have computer geeks who can send Iran’s centrifuges wobbling.
Whether you agree with him or not on an array of other issues, we have a president who didn’t lie to his people, and who made the right call in Iraq, and hopefully another one coming on Afghanistan.
(The columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact him at email@example.com.)