The Iraq War is officially at an end – the troops have come home. Is there any intention on the part of government and its people to seriously assess the significance of this prolonged conflict and to ascertain whether the enormous cost inflicted both on ourselves and our alleged enemies was worth it? I think not; similar to the aftermath of the Vietnam War, it will quickly be forgotten by those who did not directly participate in it. Political pundits and those running for office will, of course, distort the reality of this war in whatever way necessary to achieve personal satisfaction and gain.
In fact, nothing of lasting importance has been achieved in spite of the one trillion dollar drain on the national treasury; the more than four thousand American lives lost and the tens of thousands grievously injured Americans and the death of what well may be one million Iraqis. Quite to the contrary, sectarian rivalries have been greatly exacerbated and the physical infrastructure of the country has still not been restored to the state they were in prior to the First Gulf War – electricity and reliably clean drinking water are still not readily available to the Iraqi population, for example.
The Iraq War represents, in my mind, a reprehensible and failed attempt to establish economic hegemony in the region. It is true that the energy and weapons industries may have profited immensely from the conflict, but these are ephemeral gains. The depraved indifference to human life that this unprovoked and brutal war on the people of Iraq represents has not only diminished the financial and human resources of the United States, but also, has wrecked havoc on the moral character of the nation. It is another senseless war along with the wretched litany of past conflicts perpetrated against essentially defenseless peoples around the globe.
Is there no end to what the American people will tolerate in regards to the militaristic behavior of our nation towards other governments and their citizens? There is now about one and one-half million men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been badly used and exploited by those in power who remain remote from any possibility of harm. What kind of treatment should they expect to find on their return home? The evidence is clear in regards to the answer to this question – they can expect little help or understanding. They are, in fact, expected to suffer in silence.
If we, as a people, do not look honestly and with unflinching clarity at our own behavior, we are doomed to repeat it.