In 1990 Osama bin Laden attempted to convince Saudi Prince Sultan to let him bring in a force of mujahadeen to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, which had just been invaded by Iraq. The Saudis said thanks, but no thanks to one of their wealthy countrymen and began allowing the Americans to set up secret bases in the Saudi kingdom instead. The Gulf War of 1991 followed.
A dozen years later bin Laden saw the Americans fall into a trap by sending their military into Iraq a second time. A destabilized Iraq, which al Qaeda could not achieve while Saddam was still in power, is one less secular Islamic state in the region. The bonus to the further recruitment of young, whack-job zealots in the jihadist cause is that now it is easier to point to Iraq and say: the Christian Infidel Crusaders have attacked and now occupy an Arab country rich in oil.
The US army now occupies a country which was not a military threat to the US. The whole-cloth invention of bogus threats used to justify another undeclared war there has played out as bin Laden for years has propagandized that it would. Putting the enormous reserves of Iraqi oil under the control of the Coalition Provisional Authority instead of Saddam Hussein has preceded oil and gas prices now cresting to an all time high.
A number of Americans believe many totally fictitious things about Iraq involving weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda operating from there with Saddam (not true, they wished to eliminate him) and the rest of the world mostly approving our invasion. (They mostly didn't.) The allies of the US are actually moving away from the American position of unilateral justification for the Iraq attack, even as the EU expands, Chechnya continues to plague the Russians, and terror cells in Europe proliferate. The European Union has added a group of new member states and the currency of those nations is now unified. (Saddam had indicated before his removal that he wished in the future to be paid in Euros, not dollars for barrels of Iraqi oil.)
As numerous career military experts pointed out before and since, the Pentagon's Infantry Lite scheme implemented in the 2003 attack was wrong-headed in the extreme. No body armor was provided for most troops, no armor plate for many vehicles, and the Pentagon brass and the Joint Chiefs have now spent a year slowly sending to slaughter brave warriors who were not trained nor equipped for their assignments. The contempt by the Bush juggernaut for the seasoned advice of many military experts is based on nitwit assessments such as this:
"We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon. The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years."
Undersecretary of Defense Wolfowitz is the ultimate chickenhawk. He was recently (while appearing before Congress) unable to answer correctly by an order of magnitude how many American troops were killed the past 12 months in Iraq. He seems blithely unaware of the folly of sending a stripped-down military force on such an ill-conceived fool's errand. Iraq is the wrong place to do the wrong job, with the wrong equipment at the wrong time. Wolfowitz would have you believe he merely received some faulty information. Someone has called it the worst intelligence failure since Cassandra and the Trojan Horse.
The question of civilian control of the military was most acutely resolved by Harry Truman early in the Cold War. Though there were Congressional hearings and calls for his impeachment, Truman fired the heroic Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He later wrote:
I "didn't fire MacArthur because he was a dumb SOB, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail." He was fired for not respecting the authority of the President.
--Harry S. Truman
Some have called for Donald Rumsfeld to be fired. I don't think he should be. He is certainly responsible for overseeing the Pentagon, but Bush, Cheney, the Joint Chiefs, Powell and Wolfowitz are equally culpable in this strategic meltdown in the desert. Bush has said of himself "I don't do nuance." Rumsfeld said last year "I don't do quagmires." Such is the mindset of these subdividers of sand dunes who are spending your money to send your family members off to die, and then having them face courts martial for following orders.
Truman was himself a war veteran and a half-century before the $150 toilet seat became shorthand for the Department of Defense money pit, he made certain that the massive expenditures by the United States via the Marshall Plan --which rebuilt the destroyed and destitute industrial nations and their economies after World War II-- was nearly devoid of graft, patronage and waste. Such cannot be said of the Return to Iraq, 2003.
One of the greatest threats facing the US is private corporate control of defense spending which has skyrocketed in the past two fiscal years concurrent with the large tax cuts specifically handed to the wealthiest tier of America's citizens. Before one of them was passed, billionaire Warren Buffett said on "ABC Nightline" it was so economically useless you might as well call it the "Warren Buffett tax relief act." The wet dreams of imperial conquests by the likes of Wolfowitz, Cheney and Richard Perle result in precisely what we see on the ground in Iraq right now.
As Eisenhower said,"we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
With the involvement of private firms such as Halliburton, Bechtel, Dyncorp and numerous other defense contractor firms being paid for security, transportation and some, as it now turns out -- for interrogation of captured prisoners in Iraq, the situation resembles that of 19th century Pinkertons and the private armies of ruthless railroad barons in the Old West. Some of these firms have engaged in firefights with "insurgents" and calling in their own air support. They operate outside the chain of command to which all the active military members sent by the Pentagon must adhere.
Unlike previous Iraq involvements the expenses of the Pentagon for everything from fuel to firepower are not being shared by the vaunted "coalition". The Gulf War of 1991 with Iraq under Bush the Elder cost around $61 billion dollars. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Japan paid around $57 billion of those costs. The current war in Iraq has cost Americans $100 billion in the first 12 months according to Bush the Second's administration, which says it will keep the current number of troops (130,000) on the ground through 2005. Including their request of Congress for an additional $25 billion to supplement the $87 billion outlay they estimated last year it comes out to +/-, $1 million per man on the ground for this zero-sum, neo-con destabilization exercise.
$132 billion divided by 130,000 = $1,015,384.62
The costs may actually be much higher but severely lowballed for election year consumption. Some US allies who supported our Afghanistan effort beginning in late 2001 do not understand why Iraq once again took precedence over everything else for another President Bush. The 9/11 commission heard testimony from Richard Clarke that the number of policemen in New York City is larger than the force we sent to Aghanistan to hunt bin Laden and overthrow the Taliban.
France and Russia, among others opposed a US invasion of Iraq. Some say they had lots of lucrative Iraqi oil contracts to protect. Other European allies have been alienated as well. Donald Rumsfeld dismissed them as "the chocolate making countries" of old Europe when some of them dared --as did the Islamic democracy of Turkey-- to represent the will of their constituents in opposing the launch of a new Iraq war. According to Bob Woodward $700 million was pulled out of Afghanistan at a crucial point in that war and diverted toward preparations for another Iraq invasion.
At Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan Air Base the American forces are now leaving. Many civilian oil workers from abroad are leaving the country too. Unlike 1991's Gulf War, Turkey refused permission this time for American troops to deploy from their country. This is blamed by some Bush apologists for the failure of his Iraq strategy. Spain has pulled its troops out of Iraq. General William Odum, a former NSA head who accurately predicted the outcome of this invasion and occupation points out that we have now alienated our allies in Europe over this misguided Gulf War sequel.
The costly task of overthrowing a sovereign nation and then attempting to occupy ancient lands among an Islamic population has created a netherworld of conflicts between international law and the Geneva Accords, from Guantanamo to the recently installed mosque and minaret sniper positions of Iraq's holy cities.
Fighters who were shooting at Marines only weeks ago are now being recruited in the Fallujah brigade. Our man in Fallujah, their newly installed leader, General Mohammed Latif says he wants the Americans to leave Fallujah and then to leave Iraq.
This is the grand result a year after victory was declared by the President of the United States. The neo-conservative architects of this experiment in massive defense spending abroad said "major combat operations" were ended in May, 2003. They are lying scum who act as if the lives of our enlisted grunts are a dime a dozen.
"Even when there is a necessity of military power, within the land,...a wise and prudent people will always have a watchful & jealous eye over it."
-- Samuel Adams