What Victory?

Article excerpt

What a difference a few months can make. At the end of April 2003, just four months ago, Donald Rumsfeld was in the Qatar headquarters of General Tommy Franks, effusively comparing the US victory in Iraq to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the liberation of Paris.

The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War and a reuniting of East and West, and the people of Paris actually welcomed the Allied forces as liberators from the Nazis in World War II. In neither case was it necessary for American forces to remain as an occupying force; in neither case did the US government have its eyes on the oil.

As Rumsfeld savored US military dominance over the far inferior Iraqi forces, he triumphantly crowed, "Never have so many been so wrong about so much." He was presumably referring to the "many" who doubted American military tactics in the war, not those who thought the war was immoral, illegal and unnecessary.

It was clearly a day of jubilation for Rumsfeld and he was enjoying trumpeting to the world that he had been right all along.

A few days later, a triumphant George W. Bush, dressed up like a combat pilot, was flown some thirty miles off the California coast to the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Bush announced to the assembled troops on the carrier that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.

Bush said: "With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians." He did not mention that approximately twice as many innocent civilians died in the Iraq War as had died on September 11th. Nor did he mention the Iraqi children who had lost arms and legs and parents as a result of the war, and would carry their injuries through their lives.

The president, looking to all the world like the military hero he was not, continued: "No device of man can remove the tragedy from war." He did not say, presumably because he did not think, that with wisdom the tragedy of war might be prevented. Nor did he say that, in the case of this war, it was initiated illegally without UN authorization based on arguments by him and his administration to the American people that the Iraqi regime posed the threat of imminent use of weapons of mass destruction.

The combat pilot impersonator went on, "Yet it is a great advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent." He might have added that this is especially true when it is he and his colleagues, and they alone, who decide who is guilty and who is innocent.

As the television cameras rolled on, Bush said, "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on." Four months out his perspective on victory is questionable, and there remains no established link between the regime of Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorists. He was also wrong to conclude that the "battle of Iraq" was a victory or had ended.

While an action doll of Bush in military garb is being marketed across the country, almost daily young Americans in the occupation force are being killed in what now appears to be an on-going war of liberation from the Americans. …