Expect Terrorists to Bring War to Us

In May there were 90 suicide bombings in Iraq. That means that 90 young Arabs, mostly from Saudi Arabia, smuggled themselves into Iraq through Syria, fastened a jacket of explosives around their bodies and blew themselves up in search for Islamic martyrdom, killing scores of other Muslims in the process. The war in Iraq, billed as an essential component of the war on terror, is creating more terrorists.

It is not unreasonable to expect that other young men will soon be destroying themselves in this country as they blow up Americans in shopping malls and restaurants and hospitals and churches. The chickens of the criminal war in Iraq will come home to roost. No matter that the majority of Americans disapprove of the war. It is too late for that now.

Since the end of the World War II, the United States has fought three "small" wars -- Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq. We lost all three of them and for the same reason -- hubris. We were the most powerful nation on Earth, we had the most advanced military technology, we could easily overcome the local peasants with their crude weapons. Then we found ourselves trapped in the Big Muddy with no easy way out.

The Arab martyrs have an effective strategy: Kill Iraqis to turn them against Americans. Americans are responsible for the chaos. If they leave, maybe it will end.

Our most recent exercise in hubris is by far the worst, the most irresponsible, the most appropriate to indict those responsible as war criminals. We could knock over Saddam Hussein with a small army, the locals would dance in the street and strew flowers on our tanks. Secretary Rumsfeld, the Robert McNamara of our day, repealed the Powell Doctrine that we should attack only with overwhelming force and a clear exit strategy. Colin Powell must have known that this was folly but, good soldier that he is, he did not resign or become the Deep Throat of the present administration. However, good soldiers can also be war criminals. Both Rumsfeld and Powell were criminally negligent in their failure to consider the obvious possibilities for catastrophe after a quick and easy military victory.

The president, the vice president, the secretary of state, the coterie of "neocon" intellectuals around them, desperately wanted a war with Iraq even before the World Trade Center attack. The neocons whispered that the way to Jerusalem was through Baghdad, never thinking that suicide bombings could migrate from Jerusalem to Baghdad. None of these wise men bothered to worry about the aftermath of the war. The president is a risk-taker, we are told now, as he battles for his harebrained plan to reform social security. The invasion of Iraq was a risk, a big risk the potential costs of which were never seriously estimated. That's what happens when you have a reckless Clint Eastwood type for president. Are not the president and his immediate advisers war criminals for rashly plunging the country into the Big Muddy once again?

John F. Harris in his book Survivor describes in detail President Clinton's agonizing reluctance to engage in military action overseas. There were so many contingencies, so many things that might go wrong. The current administration has never worried about such problems. Convinced of our indomitable might, ignorant of the lessons of history, unconcerned about what might go wrong, it plunged blithely into the Bid Muddy. The rationalizations of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's involvement in the World Trade Center attack were false.

Now the president, dismissing the revelations about the weapons of mass destruction (the vice president apparently still believes them) is content to say that he still thinks the United States has done "the right thing." However, the majority of Americans and even some Republicans want the United States out of Iraq. The military says it will take four years to train an effective Iraqi army. The Big Muddy gets deeper.

But what about the majority that once supported the war? Blinded by anger at the World Trade Center attack and terrified by terrorism, are they responsible for all the blood in Iraq? Will they be responsible for the Saudi martyrs who will begin to ravage this country? Were the Germans responsible for Hitler?

© 2023 Chicago Sun-Times