Wasted: 4,489 precious American lives in Iraq

It started with a lie. General Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, was sent by the Bush/Cheney administration to appear before the United Nations General Assembly.

Not knowing the truth, he gave testimony to the fact that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had developed and was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. He backed up America’s claim by showing aerial photos of WMD assembly sites taken over Iraq.

Thus began a 10-year war that claimed 4,489 American lives plus hundreds more from allied nations that joined in the pursuit. Americans, who volunteered to defend their nation, ended up dying on foreign soil. Tens of thousands of American troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan today still are living the hell of war as they desperately try to reenter civilian life.

The incursion into Iraq cost America over $4 trillion, money that could have been spent at home on education, building schools, parks, bolstering our economy. Rather we rebuilt Iraq at the expense of America’s needs at home.

Ten years later, as combat neared its end the Obama administration, finally pulling our remaining troops out of Iraq, proposed leaving 10,000 U.S. troops behind to smooth the transition from America’s presence to a government lead by the elected prime minister, Nouri al Maliki. Maliki told Washington that he would have no part of America’s continued presence, stating that Iraq would make it on its own. Little did he know what he would face in the months to come.

Almost out of nowhere a branch of al- Qaida-linked militants, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) rose from the earth and captured Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq; Tikrit, and then Iraq’s oil refineries. Four divisions of the Iraqi military, American trained and equipped, facing the advance of ISIS are abandoning their posts, leaving behind their American military gear, ridding themselves of their military uniforms and blending back into the civilian population. Without opposition, ISIS, as of this date of writing, is within 70 miles, a two-hour drive, of the capital Bagdad.
It appears the Maliki government is disintegrating before our eyes. Maliki hurriedly called a session of the elected Congress to declare a state of emergency. But, he was unsuccessful in doing so as he could not assemble sufficient members of the Congress to form a quorum.

America was blindsided. No one saw ISIS coming. Where was our Central Intelligence Agency? How is it possible that an army could come into existence, overnight, and the Obama administration did not know of its existence? Obama, seeing his conclusion to the war in Iraq disintegrating before his eyes told the American people that he didn’t “rule out anything” in considering how America would react to the ISIS incursion. He later clarified that statement that he would not put American troops on the ground but did not rule out air strikes against ISIS forces.

The fact is that Iraq is made up of three distinct groups — Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish — that have been fighting for control of all or part of the country for years. Maliki’s government is almost totally Shiite. Washington, for years has been pushing Iraq’s government to be more inclusive bringing in a more all-encompassing representation of the three religious sects. Without it, there can be no peace in Iraq.

This has not happened. I do not think it ever will happen resulting in the inevitable partition of Iraq into several different states. While not invited, we have tried our best. But in the end it is not our business how a nation is governed. That is up to the people of that nation. Our only concern with other nations is that they do not represent a direct threat to the existence of America and other free, allied nations. At that point we must become involved. This war, conflict, incursion, call it what you will, will be the legacy of the Bush and Obama administrations. What a waste.

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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at kbluh@americanbsm.com or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

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