1,400 years and counting

This is how long the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims has been going on and which, continues to this very day. Yet back in 2003 President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Condoleezza Rice all believed that, if with the help of the United States, Iraq could become a democracy, it could then become a model for other middle east countries.

Incredibly naive. Such wishful thinking hasn't happened in 1,400 years. This is the kind of fantasy thinking that contributed to the war we waged beginning in 2003. Totally unnecessary and has cost us more than 4,800 precious military lives. Another 32,223 wounded, at a staggering cost of $1.7 trillion! One can only imagine what the likes of Cheney, Wolfowitz and other warlords of the right wing party would have done if this had happened on Clinton's or Obama's watch. Impeachment of course, but I'm sure that they would have seriously discussed other punitive actions.

A few months ago after retiring as Bush's secretary of Defense Secretary Gates said, "Any politician is thinking of starting another war like a Iraq or Afghanistan ought to have his head examined."

A wrong war, an immoral war, and a hideous stain on our moral standards. Now there is this threat of outright insurgents' civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Again we hear these shrill voices of the extreme right crazies who claim we must do something. We cannot just stand by.

Yet just a few days ago General Petraeus who led the surge so successfully in Iraq said drones and planes cannot and must not become the Air Force for either the Sunnis or the Shiites. He supported the president's present plan which is to see and wait for commitments.

Thankfully there are thoughtful conservatives in both parties whose voices are being heard. Recently the intelligent conservative George Will declared that there will not be any peace in Iraq until Mr. Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, includes important Sunnis in his cabinet and other important government posts.

In contrast to George Will, we have Cheney, a coward, a draft dodger, who had five deferments during the Vietnam War and who is braying the battle cry we must do something. Here is a man who more than any of the other Bush advisors tried frantically to connect Hussein, the monster, with 9/11 knowing fully well that Hussein and his henchmen were not involved.

Will our politicians ever learn from our mistakes? Mistakes like the so-called Mexican War of 1847, the Spanish American War of 1896, the war in Vietnam which was a local battle between local communist leaders and the unbelievably overwhelmingly corrupt wealthy leaders of Vietnam who were embedded in place in all of the important government positions. Obviously not.

After training hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops during the last several years, having spent the obscene amount of money as previously mentioned, we now see what is a seeming lack of will by the Iraqi army. The same army that we work so hard to create and trained. Thousands have already deserted the government, taken off their uniforms and silently joined the civilian population.

Of course it wouldn't be the Middle East without reference to oil. For many years in Iraq has been an important supplier of oil to the United States, perhaps our second-largest. Yes, something must be done, but it will require a program that again takes in the needs of both Sunnis and Shiites. Otherwise the conflict will continue on endlessly.

It is said that "success has 1,000 authors. Failure is an orphan." I think the last word should be orphans rather than the singular so as to include Bush, Cheney and Wolfowitz.

Hal DeBona lives in Dorset.


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