As my initial draft of this message hit the 5 page mark in MS Word, I realized that it had well surpassed the point where anyone would actually read it. This is my second draft, which I will attempt to keep significantly shorter. Please note that the degree of detail will suffer for this, however anyone that wants to see the initial draft should feel free to PM me with their email address. Thanks.
Western nations, specifically the U.S. and Great Britain, been heavily involved in the Middle East since oil was discovered there in the early 20th century. The CIA has been involved in the overthrow of sovereign governments in the region that were not sympathetic to the U.S. agenda and has supported governments (even those helmed by “brutal dictators”) that were willing to work with the U.S.
Right, wrong, or indifferent, people having to live with the consequences of such interventions have gone on to see the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. Feeling that the U.S. acts with impunity while they are forced to suffer the consequences, many of them turn to radical Islam as a means to exact their revenge. Whether we choose to accept this rationale or not does not matter because their actions are not conditional upon our understanding or acceptance. Similarly, our insistence upon acting as though we are the ones that have been slighted (again, whether we have been or not) results in retaliation which only further fuels the cycle of revenge.
The U.S. is responsible for the circumstances that led up to the Iraq war. We gave military aid to Saddam Hussein during his war against Iran. We told him that we would not get involved with his border dispute with Kuwait and then invaded when our allies (and Bush family friends) in the Saudi Arabian monarchy realized that Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait would put Iraqi forces dangerously close to important U.S./Saudi oil fields. President Bush knew that Saddam did not have WMDs because the U.N. had been inspecting weapons sites inside Iraq for more than a decade and destroying what they found. When the U.N. inspection teams were invited to leave, the U.S. staged covert bombing missions against suspected sites. The chemical and biological weapons that we knew he had had either been destroyed or rendered inert years before. The intelligence suggesting that Saddam had a nuclear program in the works was faulty and Bush had been presented with reports stating as such before he uttered the famous 16 words in his January 2003 State of the Union address.
Despite this evidence however, political forces that have deep roots in American history had long since determined that Iraq was one of three countries that stood as potential barriers to the U.S. world domination promoted by the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Political players such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, and John Bolton all subscribed to the tenets of the Wolfowitz Doctrine and are directly associated with the Project for a New American Century. The PNAC was co-founded by William Kristol. William Kristol also co-founded (and is the editor for) a publication known as The Weekly Standard. Therefore, when Secretary of Defense (a former U.S. envoy to Iraq that broke bread with Saddam Hussein) leaks a story to The Weekly Standard that the intelligence shows that the war in Iraq was justified, and someone want to point to The Weekly Standard as a reputable source for objective and unbiased works of high journalistic integrity, I am not persuaded.
All of this leads me to conclude that we are in Iraq for two reasons: oil and furthering of U.S. imperialism (evidenced by the priority placed upon security for the Iraqi Oil Ministry soon after our invasion, and the subsequent construction of 14 permanent military bases). I do not believe that American lives are somehow more valuable than Iraqi lives, or vice versa. Therefore, I do not consider the deaths of Iraqi civilians a trivial thing, any more so than I would consider the death of American civilians a trivial thing. So if the 3,000 civilian deaths on September 11th is a travesty, then I don’t know what to consider the 100,000 (and counting) civilian deaths in Iraq.
Some may try to argue that 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians aren’t as egregious an offense because they are collateral damage, whereas the 3,000 American civilian deaths were the result of an act of terrorism. I would ask these people if they would feel terrified for themselves and their loved ones if they were awoken in the middle of the night to the sounds of an air siren, or the sound of a tank belonging to occupying military force rolling down the street outside your home, or the sight of your son, brother, father, etc being hauled away in the middle of the night because the occupying army got a report of insurgents in your neighborhood and your loved one is of military age and did receive the mandatory military training required by the former regime. I would argue that both are equally terrifying. I would also note that the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 were 4 events that were finite in duration and impact, whereas this type of terrorism goes on day after day for these people. Sadly, the Iraqis weren’t even involved in September 11th, so our actions can't even be justified in the name of revenge.
I’ll end here by saying that the moral comparison between torture of innocent Americans and the collateral damage against Iraqi civilians isn’t even applicable. As I have already pointed out, Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or the attacks of September 11th. Therefore every Iraqi death that we chalk up to “collateral damage” is a stain on our reputation and another source of hypocrisy when we presume to lecture other governments regarding human rights. Some of us would hope that America is capable of conducting itself in a manner worthy of emulation and respect, rather than as a bully that gets its way by pushing others around.
I hope I have adequately addressed every point raised in this thread. I thank you for reading. Take care.