One hot September day when I was in the second grade, I told my best friend to come to my house after school and my mother would drive us to the local pond to go swimming. That afternoon back at home, as I was talking to my mother with my back to the front door, she asked in puzzlement, “What is Dickie doing coming up our sidewalk with his bathing suit on?”
I blurted out, “Oh, I told him you’d take us swimming. You’ll take us, won’t you, Mom?” Her response was immediate and definitive. “Oh no I won’t! You can’t promise that I’ll do something without talking to me first!” And with that, I had to tell Dickie that my mom wouldn’t take us swimming.
For my mother to agree to take us swimming would have been to reward me for having done the wrong thing, and I would have been encouraged to do it again. To permit the United States to remain in Iraq now is to reward the Neo-conservatives for their duplicity in getting the American People to support their invasion of Iraq and to encourage them to do it again elsewhere.
The Neo-conservatives (as they call themselves) from the Project for the New American Century hatched their plan to invade Iraq long before 9-11. It was a plan to establish a permanent land-based military presence. It was a plan to privatize Iraq’s state-owned oil industry and give ownership to foreign oil companies. To accomplish their goals they lied to the American People. They told us that there were weapons of mass destruction that Hussein could launch in 45 minutes. There were none. They manipulated public opinion so that we would believe there was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. There was none. They claimed there was a letter that proved Hussein had bought nuclear material from Niger. It was a “crude forgery.” When their arguments didn’t succeed in convincing other nations to support their invasion, they resorted to threats and bribery. They told Mexico’s Vicente Fox that if Mexico didn’t support the invasion there might be “reprisals” against Mexicans living in the U.S. They said the war would cost 1.9 billion dollars per month. Now the cost is over 6 billion per month. They have just taken another 87 billion of our dollars, more than the budget deficits of all the states of the union combined. You can be sure that a whole lot of it will go straight into the pockets of their buddies in companies like Halliburton and Bechtel. And you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll come back for more if we don’t stop them now.
By their lies and deception, the Bush administration and its Neo-conservative cronies violated the sacred trust that exists between the American president and the American People. The invasion of Iraq was not an American policy. It was a Neo-conservative policy, narrowly conceived in the interests of oilmen, military profiteers, and little Napoleons with dreams of world conquest, but wrapped ever so tightly in the American flag.
To permit our troops to remain in Iraq now is to reward these militarists and war profiteers. To reward them is to encourage them to lie to us again and to invade again. They hijacked the American presidency and American foreign policy and now they want the American People to ratify their theft and their lies by agreeing to keep US troops in Iraq. Don’t do it. Don’t let them have a single drop of Iraqi oil. Don’t let them keep a single military base in Iraq. They should not gain from their duplicity.
Don’t buy their cynical argument that “We” have a responsibility because “We” started this, or as Senator John McCain says, “We broke the dishes, now we have to fix them.” Their “We” is not the American people. Their “We” is the Neo-conservative clique who lied to the American people every which way so that WE, the American People, didn’t know forwards from backwards and so that WE would support THEIR war. If they had given us the straight scoop and we had still supported attacking Iraq, as most Americans supported the war in Afghanistan, then it would be our war, and we, the American People, would have a responsibility to fix things up. But that is not how it happened.
I learned common sense from my mother. When you look at the sordid histories of George Bush’s father and grandfather Prescott, who financed Hitler, I hear my mother saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” When I see the same people, who illegally defied and lied to the US congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, operating at the heart of the current administration, I hear my mother’s words, “Birds of a feather flock together.” And when I am told that we can’t leave Iraq now that we have invaded and occupied their country, I remember that day more than forty years ago when I told Dickie that my mom would take us swimming, and she let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I should never again present her with a fait accompli and expect she would just go along with it.
Marc Krizack works in the field of international development. His work is often funded by grants from the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development on projects that promote disability rights in Russia and the developing world.