The Iraq invasion was a terrible mistake that has cost 4,257 American lives and will cost more than $2 trillion, including medical costs. As Wikipedia puts it, .Legal scholars generally agree that preventive war is not legally distinct from aggression, the supreme crime. in international law.
Commentators as diverse as former President Dwight Eisenhower and Noam Chomsky have argued that accepting one preventive war would open the floodgates to all preventive wars, reducing the world to .the law of the jungle..
Critics argue this .war-at-will. society creates an environment where war can be easily justified. Armed forces are raised for defense. But once you have the strength, the temptation to use it is too much for most politicians.
The administration repeats the mantra that America is a nation of laws, but how can it claim that when we keep committing the supreme crime?
The goal of entering Afghanistan was not to build a nation, but to find and kill Osama bin Laden. We failed because we never found him and he is either dead or now in another country. So why are we there?
Having destroyed what little infrastructure they had left, such that it is impossible for them to function as an independent democratic country, we funnel a billion dollars a year through AID to American firms to rebuild it. Only a tiny percentage of that is spent on actually building anything, and the Taliban take 20 percent of that for .protection,. just like the Mafia did.
Our embassy staff sits in air-conditioned offices in fortified embassies, helping support a corrupt government. Most of the money finds its way back to America, so there is small incentive to change.
No one has been punished for these mistakes. Former CIA Director George Tenet, supposedly in charge of the bad intelligence, gets given a medal. John Yoo, torture team lawyer, is teaching at Berkeley. The only surprise is that he is not teaching an ethics program.
The Iraqi government states one million Iraqis died as a result of the war. Several million have been injured. How do you regain the lives, treasure, and reputation that our country has lost in fighting these wars?
George Will writing in the New York Times (better late than never): .If, in spite of contrary evidence, the U.S. surge permanently dampened sectarian violence, all U.S. forces can come home sooner than the end of 2011. If, however, the surge did not so succeed, U.S. forces must come home sooner..
If you want to understand .Why do they hate us?. Chomsky has the answers. See .Hegemony or Survival: America.s Quest for Global Dominance..
Chomsky indicates America is just as much a terrorist state as any other government or rogue organization. Former President George W. Bush.s 2003 invasion of Iraq drew worldwide criticism, in part because it seemed to present a new philosophy of pre-emptive war and an appearance of global empire building. But according to Chomsky, such has been the operating philosophy of American foreign policy for decades..
The president should fulfill his promise to leave Iraq. He is losing the support of many who helped him get elected. Don.t look for more missions . get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Pull our troops out of Japan and Germany.
We can no longer afford to be the world.s policeman and would do better to guard our own borders and give the troops a rest. It would be much better to give some of the money to rebuild the infrastructure we have destroyed in several countries than pay lewd, drunken Wackenhut mercenaries $430,000/year for guard duty.
Consider how even one mercenary.s salary would help the starving, homeless children there.
Successive presidents have blown the peace dividend that should have followed the end of the Cold War. Instead of fixing our infrastructure, we spend more on the military. America has about 400,000 troops in 135 countries, that is 70 percent of the countries in the world. Most Americans couldn.t find even half of them on the map.
Why are there 100,000 in Japan and Germany? The defense budget was $710 billion, not including the wars that will bring it to a trillion dollars per year, double that of 2002. It is really a lot more, as the real health cost of veterans is not included.
By killing and wounding so many in other parts of the world we ensure an endless supply of people seeking revenge. We sought revenge for 9/11 by attacking even those who were innocent. Imagine how we would feel if we had been invaded, had a million people killed and our infrastructure destroyed?
Adrian Ashfield is a resident of Haverford.