We should get out of Iraq immediately. Let me explain ...
But, first, bear in mind why we're in Iraq. It has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, and it has nothing to do with the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
It has a lot to do with ambition.
Before we invaded Iraq, our politicians told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in great quantities. Secretary of State Colin Powell even went to the United Nations and described Iraq's cache in detail, down to the pound of certain weapons.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told us that not only did Iraq have these weapons but he knew exactly where they were.
This is why I seriously doubted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. What our government told us defied logic and common sense.
The United Nations had inspectors in Iraq looking for weapons. They couldn't find any. Logic and common sense, then, would have dictated that our government tell those inspectors where to look. After all, if we knew, why wouldn't we share our knowledge with the inspectors?
We wouldn't, of course, because we didn't know. Our government explained its unwillingness to help by explaining that it didn't want to compromise confidential sources.
How much sense does that make? Saddam has enough weaponry to attack the western world, and we can't lead the UN inspectors to it because we don't want Saddam to know how we got the information? Give me a break!
(As a footnote, it should be noted that a favorite trick of pathological liars is to "protect" their nonexistent sources of information.)
We now know for certain that Saddam did not have the weapons we used to go to war against Iraq.
And common sense tells that we didn't attack Iraq because Saddam is a brutal dictator. He was a brutal dictator back in the days when we played footsie with him as he fought Iran. (Do a Google image search for Rumsfeld and Saddam, and you'll find pictures of Rummy and Saddam shaking hands.)
Historically, the United States has always been friendly with brutal dictators if it's to our financial advantage. Currently, there are other dictators afoot; Saddam wasn't the only one.
And anyone who can read knows that Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
So why did we go to war with Iraq?
The short answer is "oil." But that's not the whole story.
Briefly, we went to war with Iraq because an influential group of conservatives (now known as "neo-cons") convinced President George W. Bush that it was in America's best interests to conquer Iraq as a first step toward dominating the oil-producing nations in the Middle East and eventually the world.
Not insignificantly, these same neo-cons wanted to eliminate Iraq as a threat to their darling ally, Israel.
Their plan is laid out in detail on the Web at newamericancentury.org.
So we invaded Iraq not to save ourselves from weapons of mass destruction, not to rid the world of a brutal dictator and not to avenge the murders of Sept. 11. We invaded Iraq because Bush and his pals think America should rule the world.
That's why we can't win. The rest of the world isn't going to let us win. The rest of the world might admire us, but they do not want to be dominated by us.
And that's why we should get out of Iraq today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not a year from now, but today.
Try as we may, we are not going to turn Iraq into a model democracy. The Sunnis don't want democracy. The Shiites don't want a democracy. The Kurds don't want a democracy.
The Saudis do not want a new democracy as a neighbor. Nor do the Kuwaitis. Nor do the Syrians. None of the countries in that region with despotic rulers want us to succeed. And don't think for a moment they're above slipping terrorists into Iraq to kill Americans.
The plan to conquer Iraq was half-baked from the start. Our troops were not properly trained or equipped to do the job given them. (Sent to the desert in jungle fatigues? Not given body armor? Completely untrained in handling prisoners?)
There was no "exit plan" because we never intended to exit. The plan was, and is, to build military bases in Iraq and stay there forever as cock of the walk in the Middle East.
Many of our European friends, who have a sense of history, knew better than to get involved in such a fool's mission.
Bush may be the idealist other people think he is, but his grandiose plan for controlling the world has at least one fatal flaw: it depends, childlike, on the good will of all involved.
Yet, not even the U.S., the alleged "good guy" in this mess, has demonstrated purity. Our leaders see Iraq as a place to make money. So Bush & Co. have set up their friends to cash in on the rebuilding of Iraq, a job that should be done (for pay) by the people who built it in the first place: Iraqis.
We can't win in Iraq. Hardly anybody wants us to. The longer we stay there, the more Iraqi children end up maimed or dead, the more of our young men and women die.
Clearly, our government lied to us, and to the world, to get us into this war. That alone should tell us it's wrong.
Several years ago, George W. Bush made a decision to quit drinking. As one of my e-mailers suggests, we would have been better off if he had decided, instead, to quit lying.
It's not too late, George.
Harley Sorensen is a longtime journalist. His column appears Mondays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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