Iraq: a Costly Mistake

The news is rife with stories the last few weeks about the breakdown of Iraq. The stories attempt to convey a sense of surprise and dismay that it is happening, particularly for the troops, who “question what their service has accomplished.”

I wanted to say something like “I’m surprised anyone was naive or stupid enough to think this would work in the first place,” but then I remembered that it was George W. Bush who sent us into Iraq in 2003.

I was painting my apartment that night in March 2003 when I heard we were invading Iraq again, and my first thought was “quagmire.” Thanks to Barack Obama, we got out of the quagmire. Maybe he recognized the flaw in the mission in the first place.

Of course the flag-waving conservatives gave the war the lame, naive name “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” which telescoped their fundamental lack of understanding of nations like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and on and on, which is this: if they wanted American-style democracy, they would have it. Long ago.

The American voter must be pretty naive as well to believe there’s ever a good reason for America or NATO or the United Nations to invade and occupy any country. We don’t invade to save anyone. We invade to possess and dominate. We invade to bully. We invade to make the world American.

In one of the stories I read last week, it said we spent a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq. Can you possibly imagine what a trillion dollars could have accomplished in America in that same time period? Education. Sustainable energy. Health care. The environment. Real freedom.

Okay, now I’m the one being naive, thinking that great nations can commit their energies for good.

[stextbox id=”alert” caption=”Update”]Seventy-one percent of Americans now say that the war in Iraq “wasn’t worth it,” a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll shows, with skepticism about the lengthy war effort up substantially even in the last 18 months.[/stextbox]


  1. What I find so astonishing, and depressing, is that the media is once again trotting out the same tired old white men from 10 years ago who got us into this quagmire in the first place — lending these liars and would-be imperialists the kind of credibility they should have been stripped of half a decade ago. They are repeating the same right-wing party line of war, war, war, and no one in the media is calling them on it. They just get more airtime. I think a fraction of the blame for where we are today is the vacuum of 24/7 news that must be filled by any old talking head. People hear BS and they start believing it.

  2. What if we had instead just swapped a the same number of effected households for four to five years as an cultural exchange.

    Understanding, that’s real change.

  3. “…We invade to make the world American…”

    This is the crux of it. It our way of life is so great, why do only 6% of Americans approve of Congress? Why do 55% of Americans think we’ve failed to make progress toward racial equality? And 65% say they have no confidence in the Supreme Court?

    Instead of spending so much to make others more similar to us, perhaps it makes sense to work harder at making our own country palatable.

    “…a trillion dollars…”

    Reuters reported last year that it’s more than $2 trillion, and could grow closer to $6 trillion if you count ongoing costs like treating veterans and replacing lost hardware.

    But let’s say $2 trillion for shits and giggles.

    Average room/board/tuition for four years is close to $80,000 right now. So the two trillion could have paid for four years of college for 25,000,000 students. That’s more than all the students currently enrolled in college in the U.S.

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