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So Iraq Was a Good Idea After All?

For this, we’ve spent $200 billion to $300 billion, suffered 2,158 dead (and counting) and God knows how many thousands maimed?

President George W. Bush poses with flight deck crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln May 1, 2003. White House photo by Paul Morse

President George W. Bush poses with flight deck crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln May 1, 2003. White House photo by Paul Morse

You can’t pick up your newspaper, listen to your radio or turn on your television set these days without being confronted by a deeply earnest George W. Bush telling you how well the war in Iraq is going. It’s reached the point where I’m afraid to open my closet door for fear he might pop out, ready to make his pitch.

Oh, he made a few mistakes at the beginning, he’ll tell you, but basically the war was a swell idea and it’s working out and he’d do it again if he had the chance. He even took his act out on the road to audiences that were not pre-selected for servile adulation, a first for him.

It’s been a whirlwind performance, particularly from a president who is famous for never admitting mistakes or explaining what he’s doing.

“My conviction comes down to this,” he said. “We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them….

“And I have never been more certain that America’s actions in Iraq are essential to the security of our citizens, and will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.”

It was miles ahead of any other speech he’s given on Iraq. Not that I buy it, you understand, but when a president looks straight into the camera and forcefully defends his policy in terms of good and evil, well, he’s pretty hard to beat.

Predictably, his approval rating in the “Washington Post”-ABC poll shot up to 47 percent from a low of 39 a month before.

Apparently, he’s putting great store in the results of the recent Iraqi election, which he called “a landmark day in the history of liberty.”

Which it could well be, I suppose, but it seems to me that when you’re talking about the Middle East, you have to be careful what you wish for.

The most likely outcome of a democratic Iraq is a repressive, fundamentalist Islamic government with little respect for the rights of minorities and none for the rights of women. One, moreover, that is eager to fall into the welcoming arms of its Shiite neighbor, Iran, which hates our guts and is working to develop nuclear weapons. And if the Iraqi Shiite majority is reluctant to share oil revenues with their former overlords, the Sunni, you have the recipe for civil war.

But the real nightmare scenario is that Iraq, once we leave, becomes the new Afghanistan, a safe haven and training ground for terrorists who seek to destroy us at home and abroad.

For this, we’ve spent $200 billion to $300 billion, suffered 2,158 dead (and counting) and God knows how many thousands maimed?

I don’t see that as a good bargain. The Iraq election was a start and a good one, but only a start. We have a long way to go in Iraq and the odds are against us.

But this is the holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) season, time to focus on good news. For example:

A federal judge in Pennsylvania struck down a Dover, Pa., school board rule that required teachers to tell students that evolution was a flawed theory and that there were alternative explanations of humankind’s beginnings, “Intelligent Design” for one.

The mildest of intrusions into the classroom, you would think, but Judge John E. Jones got right to the heart of things:

“We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause.

“The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID (Intelligent Design) is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism and not a scientific theory.”

The judge, a Bush appointee, didn’t say you couldn’t teach Intelligent Design in school, merely that you couldn’t teach it in a science class. It was a blow struck for common sense and clear thinking.

Which, in these dismal days, qualifies as good news indeed.

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Donald Kaul

Donald Kaul

Donald Kaul wrote newspaper columns for half a century, beginning with a long stint at the Des Moines Register that made him a household name (in a good way) throughout Iowa. Kaul, who was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary in 1987 and 1999, wrote for OtherWords for many years, right on up to his retirement. He passed away in July 2018 and was lovingly memorialized throughout Iowa, the Midwest, and the journalistic world.

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