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Shock and shame

Fri, Mar 24th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

The 1970s Academy Award winning documentary Hearts and Minds, which detailed the course of the Vietnam War, from our initial contacts with the Ho Chi Minh resistance during World War II to our ultimate draw down of troops in 1973, documents how successive presidents, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, all lied to the American public about Vietnam. And that this, in the end, was our ultimate downfall, in that eventually the American public turned its back on our leaders and support for the war. Simply put, the American people no longer trusted our leaders to tell us the truth.

Three years after the invasion of Iraq, America still is trying to come to grips with decisions gone wrong - from the initial decision to link Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction with Al Qaida to the lack of a strategy for maintaining the peace once Americas Shock and Awe invasion had done the inevitable.

Now, after more than 2,300 American soldiers have been killed and an additional 17,000 wounded, more than 30,000 civilian deaths and more than $200 billion in resources, we are no better off now than when we invaded Iraq three years ago.

On national television, our leaders quibble over whether there is a civil war going on in Iraq, as if being able to say no makes any difference. Bush and Cheney continue to say that our strategy is working and that we must stay the course.

Yet, the reality is that Iraq is sinking into sectarian violence, if not outright civil war, and the insurgency continues to be fueled by the American occupying presence.

Today, Iraqis turn to their religious militias for protection because the U.S. military and the Iraqi armed forces cannot provide them security, as execution style cleansing between Sunni and Shiite is a daily occurrence. Meanwhile the Al Qaida insurgency continues to target American troops.

If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is, former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told the BBC recently, indicating that the country is at a point of no return.

Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha, a former Marine and critic of the administrations policy in Iraq, is right in saying that there is nothing more that our troops can do militarily in Iraq. And that it is time to welcome them home with thanks for doing what we have asked of them.

I, like many Americans, no longer trust our leaders on Iraq. In the end, when all is said and done, Iraq has been a neo-conservative experiment, an attempt to impose democracy in the Middle East, gone wrong.

Like Vietnam [Gulf of Tonkin incident], the terms for war in Iraq were conceived in a lie and the American public was bullied into believing we were fighting for something else. I, for one, am ashamed of what our government has done in our name.

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