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Looking back five years later

Fri, Mar 28th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Now that we've come to the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War, it's time to look back and see what we have obtained by prematurely abandoning the search for Osama bin Laden to invade Iraq. At least we should see how the predictions of great minds that planned and executed this fiasco worked out. There is too much to choose from to cover it all.

Paul Wolfowitz: (sometime before the invasion). The Iraqi oil will pay for the reconstruction of the country all by itself.

General Shinseki: (before the invasion). It will take 300+ thousand troops to control Iraq.

Donald Rumsfeld: (in reply). Nonsense.

George Bush: (about six weeks after the invasion on an aircraft carrier). Major combat operations are over and we have prevailed.

Paul Wolfowitz: (just before the invasion). The war should cost between 50-60 billion dollars.

George Bush: (on many occasions after Abu Gharaib). We do not torture.

Michael Mukasey and Michael Hayden: (early 2008). We used water boarding on three occasions and we might do it again if the President thinks we should.

Richard Cheney: (just before the 2006 elections). The insurgency is in its last throes. Just a bunch of dead-enders now.

Bush, Rice, and Gates: (in the selling of the "surge"). The Iraqis' will have to meet these 18 benchmarks. Also 18 provinces of Iraq will be under Iraqi central government control by November, 2007.

Bush, Rice, and Gates: (early this year). Benchmarks are an artificial construct and really don't matter as long as there is any progress.

John McCain: (just before the invasion). The Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.

John McCain: (after the "surge"). General Petraeus routinely goes about Baghdad in unarmored Humvees. [Absolutely false.]

An obscure Congressman from Indiana: (sometime before the 2006 election). The market in Baghdad where he bought five rugs for five dollars was just like any open air market in Indiana. [Where else would you need 100 soldiers, two Apache attack helicopters over head and four other aircraft circling the market?]

John McCain: (the summer of the invasion of Iraq). The next 2 to 3 months will be critical.

Douglas Feith: (July 2003). This month will be the turning point

President Bush: (June 2004). The turning point will come in two weeks. (June 2006) It's easy to see the tides turned.

[My all time favorite] Richard Cheney when asked about the fact two thirds of Americans now believes the invasion was a mistake: So.

Five years later, my observation on the effects and results of the Iraq invasion.

1. We have elevated a small group of criminals hiding in the mountains of Pakistan who actually attacked us to the status of a nation state. We have converted these criminals to religious zealots when they bear no significant relationship to Islam. This has given them cover and pandered to the religious zealot fringes of the Western world.

2. By making this a religious war and continuing the fallacies rife in the Western world about Islam, we recruit more impressionable and disenchanted recruits for the terrorists. All of our "leaders" should be required to read "Leaderless Jihad" by Marc Sageman.

3. Our inability to control and secure Iraq has exposed the weakness of any military occupation of a determined citizenry.

4. We have exposed to the world our inability to understand and constructively engage other cultures with interests and mores disparate from our own.

5. We have exposed the weakness of the volunteer army to fight more than two small wars at the same time.

6. Our use of torture and unwillingness of our leaders to repudiate its use has eroded our moral authority and respect with even our ancient allies.

7. World-wide terrorist attacks have not been reduced and actually have quadrupled as we have entered into the "home grown" terrorist phase, according to Sageman.

8. There will be no way to exit Iraq to the satisfaction of both those on the far right or the far left.

9. We cannot stay in Iraq until 1500 years of ethnic strife is peacefully worked out. Whether we leave soon or not so soon, the countries in the region and the religious factions will have to make their own accommodations.

10. Finally, what we have learned from Iraq is that we (U.S) never really learn the lessons of history. Our hubris always tells us we can do it better.

Robert Sauer of Preston is a regular Journal contributor. He can be reached at

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