Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why are we still in Iraq?

I wonder if President Bush ever sees the faces of our young, dead soldiers, shown as their deaths are made known and their photos become available on the evening news? What must he think if he sees those eager young faces, many of them children still too young even to buy a beer? Does he sleep well at night?

Despite the government's best efforts, every day now more and more of the truth about events in Iraq is leaking out, and every day I grow more heartsick and ashamed. Many of us heard about Saddam's gassing of the Kurdish villages, using, we now know, helicopters and nerve gas supplied by the West when he was still our best friend. But I didn't know that most of the infrastructure of Iraq—water purification plants, roads, bridges, sewage treatment plants, electricity generation plants—was bombed into oblivion by the Americans and British during the first Gulf War. And I didn't know that the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the Americans and British for 13 years after that unnecessary war were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis, many of them children. And I didn't know that, having encouraged the Shiites to rise up against their brutal dictator after the first Gulf War ended, the Americans and British turned a blind eye as Saddam's Republican Guard massacred tens—perhaps hundreds—of thousands of his people.

What are we doing in Iraq today? Why are we sending still more troops to die and to kill more Iraqis? Why aren't we instead doing everything in our power to make reparations to the people upon whom we have visited such appalling suffering? Setting aside any moral considerations, surely it would be in our best interests to do so? Instead of spending $8 billion a month on killing and maiming and destroying—and in the process creating new American-hating jihadists and terrorists? Surely, those billions could be better spent on giving the people clean water to drink and the medicines and food and shelter they so urgently need?

If the deserts of Iraq didn't lie above such vast reserves of oil, I wonder how many of us would easily have been able to find the country on a map? And in order to secure that oil for our own use under the flimsy guise of bringing "democracy" to that ancient land, must we give it up ourselves?

Diana Fassino


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