I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this thing, but I will proceed to blog on.
The State of the Union address is tonight. In light of the elections, W. will undoubtedly proclaim that the invasion of Iraq has been a tremendous success. I wholeheartedly agree that the elections have been a good thing in Iraq, but whether or not the entire invasion and occupation have been a success remains an open question.
We invaded Iraq in order to stop the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction- weapons which were never found to have existed. We began the invasion in direct violation of United Nations security counsel resolutions and against the advice of U.N. weapons inspectors who had serious doubts about whether any WMD remained in Iraq. Subsequent to the invasion and the overthrow of Saddam, we have held enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay in violation of the Geneva Convention and international law. We have engaged in torture in Iraq as well as at Guantanamo Bay (and possibly in the U.S.), a course of action which has left U.S. troops and personnel open to similar treatment at the hands of our enemies in the future. Our stature and credibility in the global community has been indelibly stained by the invasion and our actions thereafter.
We entered Iraq without an exit strategy, and, paradoxically, now that "free elections" have been held, the Bush administration seems more reluctant than ever to discuss any concrete plan for troop withdrawals from that country. We have proclaimed victory by bringing democracy to the Iraqi people, yet it's not clear that we will allow their elected leaders to be installed if the individuals whom they chose turn out to be right wing imams or other religious fanatics. We have proclaimed victory by vanquishing Saddam, when the pretense for the invasion of Iraq was the protection of Americans from terrorists and WMD. It now appears that terrorists from all over the middle east have flooded into Iraq in order to undermine our nation building and to wage war on Americans and their allies. It's not at all clear that Americans are safer as a result of the invasion, and we may have created as many enemies as we have defeated.
We entered Iraq for reasons which may or may not have been racist, but with logic which was surely flawed- one group of Muslims attacked us, so we visited retribution upon an unrelated group of Muslims which had nothing to do with September 11th, but which made an easier target than Al Qaeda and Bin Laden (which have proven to be remarkably skillful and resilient adversaries). And all of this at the cost of (as of today) over 1400 U.S. casualties and untold Iraqi civilian deaths (5,000 at a minimum, but possibly 2 to 3 times that number).
At any rate, it's undoubtedly a good thing that the Iraqis may attain a greater degree of self government, but if the U.S. is in the business of nation building for democracy's sake, then the list of governments which need to be overthrown is a long one, and we must be just getting started with our work. Maybe we can take North Korea next, and save China for later, when we've had more practice.
Bush will undoubtedly try to claim that the economy is on the rebound (which he'll try to take credit for, even though a look at the unemplolyment numbers show there hasn't been much change in the last year), that Social Security needs to be overhauled (which he'll want to privatize), and that benefits for military families need to be increased. I doubt that Bush will comment on the insane deficit that his administration has racked up (after Clinton left us with a budget surplus) or his inability to make any substantial improvements to the healthcare system.
Damn. All that typing has got me tired of politics. Just wanted to say my piece before the president got to say his.