I had spend months arguing that invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein was a bad idea, for the same reasons that President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney had argued in 1993 -- a simple look at the demographics (majority Shiite) showed that the place would become Iran West if we actually invaded and allowed the Iraqis to elect their own government. I could not see how that was in the best interests of America and Americans. In addition, I argued that Iraq was no threat to America -- after ten years of embargo it lacked the industrial infrastructure necessary to produce weapons of mass destruction (Hans Blix's inspection teams had inspected every single industrial installation and found nothing more advanced than circa 1920 United States, and of the nuclear facilities, nothing but ruins either from our bombing campaigns or from simple neglect), and after ten years nothing from before 1993 would be viable anymore. As a manufacturing engineer, I was keenly aware of the enormous industrial infrastructure needed to produce even relatively simple technological goods. Saddam had none of that, and because of the embargo had no access to buy any of that from the outside world.
But none of that mattered. Dear Leader wanted to invade, and invade he did. As the first news reports rolled across my screen, I muttered "well, I guess that's it, then. We are officially an empire now," and hoped that the war was about oil. Because, oddly enough, Ann Coulter was right (even a stopped clock is right twice a day). A war for oil arguably could be in the national interest. The stated reasons -- "liberation", "disarm Saddam", etc. -- were bullshit, and I stated so before the war began.
As American forces advanced towards Baghdad, the first "war bloggers" arose, of which I was one at a long-defunct blog. I remember one war blogger, who went by the name "Kos". When there was an operational pause on the fourth day of the war, anti-war activists cheered and jeered, "Saddam's army has stopped the U.S. Army!". Kos and I sighed and explained to people that our troops had been going for 72 hours straight, were so exhausted that they couldn't see straight, and were stopping to take a nap and wait for the fuel and ammo trucks to catch up, that there was no way in hell that Saddam's army could stop anything -- we had 100% air superiority which meant that any attempt at concentrating forces would end up being smashed to pieces and which immobilized any of Saddam's forces where they were, and unlike the Iranian army during the Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. Army doesn't do trench warfare - it does maneuver warfare in a manner that General William Tecumseh Sherman would have recognized and smiled about, using superior mobility to concentrate, bypass or smash through the lines at one particular place, then roll up the flanks. As our forces approached Baghdad, anti-war activists cheered and jeered, "Saddam's just going to make our troops fight house-to-house in Baghdad! Just see, he's going to win!" Kos and I sighed again and told folks that the U.S. Army doesn't do urban warfare of that sort -- if there is resistance, air strikes are called in to flatten the area, then fuel-air bombs dropped to incinerate anybody hiding in the rubble, and that the only outcome of Saddam trying to do urban warfare of the Stalingrad type attempting to force the U.S. to fight house-to-house would be a flattened city and a lot of dead civilians.
As it turned out, Saddam figured out the same thing, and instead sneaked off to a hidey-hole to organize a guerilla war, a guerilla war which, it seems, he'd actually been organizing for six months or more after it became clear that the U.S. was going to invade. A guerilla war which tossed Saddam over the transom when it became clear he was an operational hinderance, but which is still going on today. A guerilla war which is unwinnable short of exterminating a significant proportion of the population of Iraq and interning the rest in concentration camps -- the only way in which the U.S. has ever won guerilla wars, whether it was the occupation of the Philippines in the period 1899-1912, or the Indian Wars of the 1800's. As I repeated pointed out to the anti-war activists predicting defeat for the U.S., defeating the U.S. Army on the battlefield simply is not going to happen. But the problem is... what then? How do you win the peace? I hoped that, unlike President George H.W. Bush in 1993, the current administration had a plan for that. Alas, we swiftly found out that this was not, and is not, the case...
So America is now an empire, there are now more casualties from the Iraq war as a percentage of our forces than there were during the Vietnam War (note - I count any injury which results in death or disability as a casualty, since for purposes of war-fighting the two are the same -- in both cases, the soldier is not going to be fighting again), and there is no end in sight. And the American empire, like all empires, is showing the stresses of stationing soldiers in far lands fighting continuous wars. This has destroyed the economy of any empire which has ever attempted it, from Alexander the Great's Macedonian empire to the Roman empire to the British empire, and it seems unlikely that the American Empire is going to prove the exception to the rule.
Five years. And for what reason? Not the oil. That notion left me when the U.S. Army razed Fallujah, there is no oil in Fallujah, if it was about the oil our forces would be in the north and south of the country, not in the middle, the only place in Iraq that has no oil. What national interests are served by having U.S. forces actually occupying Iraq, as vs. securing the borders to keep any Iraqi violence from spilling outside its boundaries? All there has been is disaster, disaster for America, disaster for Iraq, and no national interests served. The only people who have profited have been the war profiteers -- the companies of Vice President Halliburton, of Former President George H.W. United Defense Corporation, and so forth. Is that what passes for national interests today? Profits for administration cronies and relatives? Is that what the war has been about all from day one? Because I simply can't figure out any other reason why we're still in Iraq....
-- Badtux the Saddened Penguin