Ten years ago this month, the United States launched what many -- including the editorial staff of the Reformer -- have concluded was an unjustified and illegal invasion of a sovereign nation, Iraq.
Writing for The Atlantic, James Fallows said the invasion of Iraq was the biggest strategic blunder "since at least the end of World War II and perhaps a much longer period. ... Invading Iraq was an unforced, unnecessary decision to risk everything on a ‘war of choice’ whose costs we are still paying."
To make matters worse, those who led us down this ill-trodden path have slunk into the background and no efforts have been made to get to the truth of the lies that were perpetrated leading up to the invasion.
"After Iraq, there has been a weird amnesty and amnesia about people’s misjudgment on the most consequential decision of our times," noted Fallows.
That includes Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer, Condoleeza Rice, John McCain and Elliot Abrams who all still refuse to admit that the deaths of between 100,000 and one million people (depending on who you listen to) should never have happened. The United States alone spent nearly $1 trillion in Iraq and nearly 4,500 of our best and bravest made the ultimate sacrifice.
But it wasn’t just the neo-cons who supported the invasion of Iraq; many people on the left also supported intervention. And then there was the
"No one wanted to risk being left out of those career-building moments of racing across the Iraqi desert in a Humvee, with our cameraman filming you in green-tinted night-vision video ..." wrote Ray McGovern for consortiumnews.com.
However, many of those people and organizations have also expressed their regrets for backing the war. Sadly, just as many have attempted to wipe the blood from their hands without admitting they were wrong.
Fallows warns that many of the same people who led us down the thorny path into Iraq and left us there to find our way out are now clamoring for military action against Iran.
"Every professional soldier -- Israeli, American, or otherwise -- who has examined the practicalities of such a mission has warned that it would be folly," wrote Fallows.
Hans Blix, the ex-UN inspector whose investigation of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was short-circuited by the Bush Administration, is urging world powers not to make the same mistake with Iran.
"Memories of the failure and tragic mistakes in Iraq are not taken sufficiently seriously," he said.
While diplomatic negotiations with Iran have dragged on for years, said Blix, he believes military action against Iran could result in a regional conflagration.
"If Iran has not made up its mind to make weapons of mass destruction before a war, I think they will come to that conclusion after a war," he said.
Meanwhile, Iraq wallows in its misery, with death, brutality, sectarian strife and corruption a fact of daily life.
We don’t know what Iraq might have been like if Saddam Hussein had remained in power, if life there would be better or worse, but knowing what we know today, we doubt we would have been so quick to be the fools who rush in.
One thing the current government of Iraq has in common with its former tyrant is "institutionalized kleptocracy," said one former Iraqi minister.
"You can’t get a job in the army or the government unless you pay; you can’t even get out of prison unless you pay," political scientist and activist Ghassan al-Atiyyah told The Independent.
Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister since 2006, doles out contracts to his supporters and then keeps dossiers on them to punish them if they step out of line, according to The Independent. Cronies are appointed to important positions in the government but have no knowledge of how to do their jobs, therefore nothing ever gets done but foreign bank accounts get fatter.
"For ordinary Iraqis ... the benefits of this democracy are still elusive," wrote Roula Khalaf for The Financial Times. "They live in an unstable country run by a sectarian-driven and often corrupt political elite that puts its own narrow interests above those of society."
If Khalaf has stumbled upon something unsettling, it’s not the truth of life on the ground in Iraq, it’s the fact that Iraq has actually turned out to be much like the United States: Driven by unbending, ideological factions and controlled by the corrupt who care only about their own self-enrichment.
So maybe in one or two ways, we actually succeeded in Iraq.