The report, endorsed by all Republican senators on the committee, including ranking minority member Sen. John McCain, cited former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora's testimony that "the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq -- as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat -- are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."
Not only has the Bush administration subverted the image of the United States' commitment to the rule of law and justice, but it has done similar damage to our reputation for economic efficiency. On Sunday, The New York Times reported on an unpublished 513-page federal history of the Iraq reconstruction that it termed "a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure."
This invasion, which according to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was supposed to be financed by Iraqi oil money, has cost U.S.
taxpayers more than $1 trillion. The results, as the Times' account of the report put it, are abysmal: "The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed."
No wonder then that we are perceived as blundering bullies by so many in the region that we claimed to be interested in modernizing. That an Iraqi journalist, whose family had been victimized by Saddam Hussein and who was kidnapped by insurgents while attempting to work as a journalist, came to so loathe the American president, as does much of the world, should serve as the final grade on the Bush administration. It should also serve as a caution to President-elect Barack Obama, as he seeks to triangulate withdrawal from Iraq with an escalation of the far more treacherous attempt to conquer Afghanistan.
In the end, it does not matter that our claimed intentions appear noble, if our practice on the ground adds up to a melange of brutal incompetence. It is significant that increased troop deployment to Afghanistan was recently announced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who will hold that same post in the new administration. This is the same Gates who in his 1996 memoir details how, as a member of the Carter administration, he was involved in supporting the Mujahideen Islamic fighters against the secular government in power in Kabul six months before the Soviet invasion.
These foreign adventures always start out so wonderfully: We will be greeted as liberators, democracy will flourish and the West will be safer, and instead we end up ever more scorned. The media traveling with Bush reported it as a victory of sorts that no reporters in Kabul threw shoes at our president during his press conference there. So much for lowered expectations.
© Creators Syndicate
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Albion Monitor December
12, 2008 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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