3,250 US soldiers killed and 25,000 wounded (thus far). 655,000 ‘excess’ Iraqi deaths (thus far). Happy anniversary, Mr President.
Related – Kurt Andersen:
Those of us who voted against Bush might like to think that Iraq is all “his” bungle, that we’re therefore free to walk away from the horror show. But we’re a nation, and we’re all responsible for all of our national liabilities. This is not Vietnam, where we hadn’t started the civil war, and where we really did have the power to end the killing by leaving. A more apt analogy, I worry, is the Soviet war in Afghanistan. After the 1979 invasion, the Soviets maintained a force of between 80,000 and 100,000 troops in a Muslim country of some 20 million people divided along ethnic, tribal, and sectarian lines. As General Petraeus said the other day, “I think historically, counterinsurgency operations have gone at least nine or ten years.” The Red Army left Afghanistan after nine years and 14,000 killed in a counterinsurgency war against a mix of indigenous fighters and the foreign jihadi who became the core of Al Qaeda. And six months later, the Soviet empire began to dissolve.
In other words, they were damned if they stayed and damned if they left, and so are we. Which should be the starting point of the real debate we need to begin.
I really, really want some of what Hitch is smoking:
The departure of Tony Blair is a huge gratification to all those who want a quiet life and all those who wish that Britain would be a mediocre power. Ever since his Chicago speech in 1999, when he celebrated the downfall of Milosevic and warned of an inevitable confrontation with Saddam Hussein – this at a time when George W Bush was governor of Texas – he has been important to all of us who believe that peaceful coexistence with totalitarian and aggressive regimes (and ideologies) is neither possible nor desirable. It is this point of principle that ought to eclipse all others. Alas, and thanks to those who temporised on that question, Iraq was allowed to decay to a stage where a ruined and maimed and traumatised society was in our future no matter what we did. The critical thing was to be certain that we, and not Saddam, chose the timing of the confrontation. Up until then, the initiative had always been left to him. If Coalition forces had not arrived in Baghdad, the imploded country would by now have been invaded by Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia and become a Rwanda or a Congo on the Gulf. Bad as things are, they would have been infinitely worse, and have necessitated a later international intervention on much more adverse terms.
Indeed – thank heavens Iraq was ‘ruined and maimed’ on our terms, not Saddam’s.