I rarely have someone write back to one of my Reader columns so I was grateful when David wrote back to take me to task on my Ford Bell column.
Â Â Â Â In his 6-22 article, Harry Welty says Bush the Elder’s “greatest
achievement” was “getting America over Vietnam”, by which he must be
referring to the first Gulf War. In 1990, as Kuwait siphoned borderland oil
fields jointly owned with Iraq, Saddam Hussein was told by the U.S.
ambassador that the U.S. had “no opinion on your border disagreement with
Kuwait. The issue is not associated with America”. Then the U.S. proceeded
to drop as many bombs on Iraq as were dropped in WW2 and Vietnam combined, and, so it was said, the “Vietnam Syndrome” was cured. Hallelujah. Our motives (as always) were portrayed as straightforward and pure.
Â Â Â Â Now Harry opposes a U.S. withdrawl from Iraq (though 80% of Iraqis
support one) because “we will make the people we meant to save pay for our mistakes”.Sorry, but we never meant to save the Iraqis from anything. Saddam was a close U.S. ally as long as he toed the line. The Bush administration doesn’t even care about saving most Americans, much less the Iraqis. We wrap our wars of empire in humanitarian lies because most Americans, like Harry, have good hearts and wouldn’t support our brutal interventions if they knew the true motives behind them. William blum’s book “Killing Hope” documents
the last 50 years of those interventions, which were far from altruistic.
Â Â Â Â Maybe the U.N. and neighboring arab states can stop Iraq’s civil
war,but the Bush administration cannot, even if it wanted to.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â David
First, I appreciate David’s graciousness in saying that I, like most Americans, have a good heart. That’s a very good place to begin my reply and sadly its missing from most dialogue about the Iraq War.
Frankly, I have a hard time disagreeing with David on many of his points. He certainly is correct that our Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, did us no favors in all but giving Saddam Hussein the green light to invade Kuwait. At the time I thought ending the butchery in the Bosnian WarsÂ was of greater importance but, as I’m sure David would be quick to agree, there just wasn’t any oil in Yugoslavia.
I would add that my characterization of the first Bush’s “greatest achievement” was intended, but failed to convey, some irony. If beating back a third rate bully was an achievement for America, big whoop. The only other legacy I can quickly remember from Bush’s presidency was his promise to “read my lips” on tax increases and his subsequent embarrassment when his lips turned out toÂ have beenÂ lying. This legacy has turned Republicans into manic anti-tax legislatorsÂ who have leftÂ the nation with a 10 trillion dollar deficit.
Although in retrospectÂ the first George Bush looks like a genius compared to the son I campaigned against him and voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 after I gave up on Ross Perot. I was evenÂ quoted inÂ a front pageÂ story inÂ the DNT as supporting Clinton.
Most importantly David gives far too much credence to the polls which tell us that 80% ofÂ Iraqis want us to leave. That would be virtually all the Shiite and Sunni population. (The Kurds are grateful to us) The poll numbers are correct but there is an important proviso. Few Iraqies want us to leave so hastily that an all-out war breaks out. Yes, they want us to leave. Yes, they think our invasion has been a disaster. Yes, they shed no tears when an American dies.Â ButÂ No, they do not want a civil war.
If we can leave in six months with some kind of stability then I’ll be happy to have us leave. If we can do it in three months that would be better yet. I justÂ think this is too soon. While I have some sympathy for David’s call to witdraw I have no sympathy for the pliant Republican Congressmen who went along with the war but who are now demanding that Iraqis take over their own defense.Â That’s a little like setting two pit bulls against each other and then telling the fleasÂ riding on their backsÂ toÂ make it stop.Â