Posts Tagged ‘iraq’

Left Hanging

Having recently passed the one year anniversary of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed, there have been voices venting their frustration that no one has been called to task for this crime.

Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times even partially titles his column on this issue with “Where is the Justice?”

Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, will hold hearings in the next two weeks (according to this article) to investigate the attack and, for the first time, survivors of that deadly night will testify.

While some people clamor for justice for Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty one year on, my follow-up question is this…

When will there be justice for Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Mike Teague?

Those names are most likely not familiar anymore, but in March of 2004, these four Americans were killed in Fallujah, Iraq. Their beaten and burned bodies were then strung up and put on display on a bridge in that city.

To date, nearly a decade since that heinous crime, no one has even been accused, much less brought to face justice.

So, best of luck Mr. Scarborough and Representative Rogers on your search to find justice, but don’t look to history to be your guide lest you become depressed.


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I have written before about the concept of setting aside a week to reflect back on a series of events that all happened to have occurred in that calendar week, but in different years.

At the end of January, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) honors those astronauts lost during the Apollo I fire (1967), the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion (1986) , and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (2003).

My previous post postulated creating a Loss and Remembrance Week during April 16 through 22 to remember those taken away and affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech (2007), the siege at Waco (1993), the bombing in Oklahoma City (1995), and the shootings at Columbine High School (1999).

This post is to offer up this current seven-day period as War Week (March 19 – 25) where we can reflect on the meanings, morality, consequences, etc., of the armed conflicts entered into by the United States of America. This week was picked because of a trio of anniversaries that fall within this timeframe:

…March 19, 2011 – The United States (along with others) begins military action against Libya;
…March 20, 2003 – The United States begins military action against Iraq; and
…March 24, 1999 – The United States (along with NATO allies) begins military action against Yugoslavia.

I understand that allies help allies because that’s what friends are for. However, I can hope that in the future that the next time some provocation comes our way that instead of firing up the troops, maybe we can just walk on by and avoid the deja vu of deaths upon deaths. For that hope, perhaps I will say a little prayer during this War Week.

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Congratulations to Barack Obama!

In addition to being the first African-American to become President of the United States…

…he also now has the distinction of being the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize to be head of a country simultaneously engaged in battles in three different countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya).

That’s change to believe in.

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Perhaps there is something in the wind during this third month of the year…

Perhaps there is something to the fact that the first three letters of this month is shared with the Roman god of war

Perhaps there is some other reason, but I wish I could understand why this is the month my country and its allies like to launch wars.

There was the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia that began this month in 1999…
There was the United States invasion of Iraq (the second one) that started this month in 2003…
And there is the current US-led coalition bombing of Libya that started a few days ago.

In a semi-related note, given the war-like nature of this month it was odd that the United States House of Representative decided last month to eliminate all funding (all $42 million of it) for the United State Institute of Peace.

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When as a country will we collectively man up and describe the dual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for what they are: complete, utter, and total failures.

Starting with Iraq, let’s remember what the original rationale was for going to war against that country – weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had them and was hiding them. The headline from the September 28, 2002 edition of The Washington Post spells it out that “U.S. Goal is Wider Access to Iraq Sites“. The belief was, eight years ago, that Hussein was lying about his WMD programs and was able to hide his country’s biological, chemical, and nuclear laboratories from the inspectors of the United Nations.

President George W. Bush, in a speech on October 7, 2002, even cited the imminent threat posed by the nuclear arsenal of the Iraqi leader when Bush said:

America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

So, in March of 2003, in a preemptive strike against that peril, the missiles flew, the bombs fell, and the tanks rolled in.

It was all for nothing as the “clear evidence” of WMDs were as mythical as the belief that one can have tax cuts, increase spending due to two wars, and still balance the budget. The September 28, 2003, headline from the Post reads “House Probers Conclude Iraq Data Was Weak“. It only took a year for that “clear evidence” to become “weak” and crumble like the sands Americans were now dying on.

The war in Afghanistan has become a failure for a different reason. Unlike the conflict in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan was based on the true premise of revenge against the masterminds of the September 11 attacks (al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, etc.) and those that gave them safe haven (the Taliban). Beginning in October of 2001, the war in Afghanistan started out well with American and NATO forces, along with allies from the Northern Alliance routing the Taliban. However, the failure began when troops in Afghanistan were moved out of that country to support the build-up of troops that would begin the war with Iraq. Deprived of manpower, the effort in Afghanistan stalls until we come to the present day where Osama bin Laden has not been captured or killed, and the Taliban has become resurgent thus rendering the goal of revenge as unmet.

In other words, unmet goals equals a failure.

Until we as a country see these conflicts for the failures they have become, we will not be able to adequately learn from them.

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