Many of us on this blog have been critical of the Iraq war from the outset as a war based on a false claim by the Bush Administration and then perpetuated by political cynicism by both Democratic and Republican leaders who did not want to be accused of “losing” the war. The costs were paid by soldiers and taxpayers in a war where the U.S. was often openly opposed by government figures and demonized in many parts of the country. It was clear that we were propping up a government that could not maintain order or loyalty across the country. Now, shortly after our withdrawal of combat troops, one of the most costly “victories” of the war — Fallujah — has been retaken by Al Qaeda as militants threaten additional takeovers in the country. Despite this history, members of Congress are already complaining that we should have continued the ground war longer at the cost of more American lives and billions of dollars.
Sen. John McCain, Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, took to the airways to accuse President Obama of misleading the American people that the Iraqi leaders wanted the U.S. to withdraw forces and that the resulting consequences were “as tragic as they were predictable” and suggested Obama misled Americans into believing that Iraqi leaders wanted U.S. forces out of their country. They again ignore the lack of success under both Bush and Obama in stabilizing the country as an outside force or the opposition of many Americans to the loss of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars on this war. It took Al Qaeda just three days to take the city despite heavy fighting.
In a joint statement the senators proclaimed that “[w]hen President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces … over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever.” So the solution was to prolong the war while members like Graham have called for war with Iran in a new military campaign.
We secured the city in 2004 after some of the bloodiest battles of the war. Anbar province itself remained an area of intense fighting throughout the war. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar and we lost roughly 100 just in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah.
McCain and Graham referred to those dead in calling for more U.S. combat troops in Iraq: “Thousands of brave Americans who fought, shed their blood, and lost their friends to bring peace to Fallujah and Iraq are now left to wonder whether these sacrifices were in vain.” Clearly, the answer as to Fallujah is yes for now. However, McCain and Graham avoid their responsibility in supporting the war in the beginning with little inquiry into the false claims of the Bush Administration or their support for the continuation of the war. They continued to support the wars at the cost of hundreds of billions as we cut key scientific, educational, and environmental programs at home. The question should be whether “these sacrifices were in vain” after entering a war on false pretenses and then opposing a withdrawal to save American lives.
There are tribes who are opposing Al Qaeda but this conflict reflects divisions that are hundreds of years old, including the worsening Sunni v. Shiite divide. There never was an end strategy in our involvement in Iraq. Even now, McCain and Graham oppose the concept of withdrawal while the country is unstable. Since it has been unstable, even under a dictatorship, you can do the math.
I do not lack sympathy for the plight of Iraqis — most of whom do not appear to support Al Qaeda, though polls show a high level of opposition to the United States as well. However, this is their country and their fight.
We have a growing crisis in this country over an economy that continues as an issue to be kicked down the road by this President and this Congress. We have cut educational, health, and scientific programs that will undermine our growth and competitiveness in the future. Yet, we have members of Congress who want to not only engage new enemies but reengage past enemies in military operations.
Source: Washington Post