Today marks a truly amazing anniversary.
I really don't believe it has been that long.
I can't believe that nothing has changed.
I can't believe that today is the day that they invaded Iraq.
Forget September 11, 2001 for a moment, today is the day that our world changed. Today is the day that history will look back as the most important date in the beginning of the 21st Century. Today is the day that America ruined the chance to do something truly wonderful.
In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union began it's collapse and we were faced with a New World Order. For the first time in a long time (and perhaps ever) the world had only one true power, the United States.
Surely with the most violent conflict in the history of time only a few generations old a new era of peace would be ushered in with the United States at its helm right?
Well the opportunity was there, and it worked for a little while I suppose. The first president Bush was able to get a strong military coalition together for a justified war in Iraq. He had the allies, he had the means, he had an objective, and most importantly, he had justice and truth.
Then came Bill. Don't get me wrong, I love Bill Clinton, I think that he was a really good president, however, he wasn't what he needed to be. He wasn't great. Instead of leading his allies against the Qaddafis and Bin Ladens of the world he focused on the economy. Now he did that well, as the US economy at this time was among the strongest economies the world has ever seen, but the American people became more and more decadent. There was a chance for foreign aid, there was a chance to help people and make the world a better place, but everyone just cared about themselves in the end.
Then the worst thing happened, hanging chads didn't fall and the Supreme Court voted a new president in. That's right we got G-Dub. Can you hear the ominous music play?
But even he had his opportunities to do the right thing. After September 11 he set out to get those responsible and he actually did it. For a while. A strong international coalition was formed and Afghanistan was invaded, they were out to get Bin Laden and anyone standing in his way. But then something funny happened.
In the 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush labelled Iraq, Iran and North Korea ads"The Axis of Evil" and said that something needed to be done about them before it was too late. The worst part about all of this? People bought it.
I remember watching CNN on September 11 and they were trying to report on who was responsible for the attacks. Bin Laden's name kept coming up time and time again but whenever they said it was him they kept saying "Don't rule out Saddam Hussein". I was blown away, Hussein had no track record of attacking Americans outside of Iraq, why would he bother now? Where the seeds of Iraq being planted all the way back then?
Support for the War was high in America, really high. Poll after poll showed that the American public was in favour of taking out Hussein "before it was too late", and the politicians followed suit. As much as I would love to blame the Republicans there is no way that one can just look at them. Many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, supported the war.
Here's where I would like to interject even more editorial comments. The United Nations has some very specific rules about attacking other countries. You are only legally allowed to invade if you have been attacked first or in defense of one of your allies who have been attacked. preemptive strikes are not listed anywhere now are they? Sure UN Rules and Regulations have served mostly as guidelines but if there is one nation that needs to follow them it is the United States. Why you ask? Well as the one and only superpower they need to set an example for the other nations.
I hate to compare the two, but when I was an RA or SRA back at Acadia I would often look the other way when people were breaking some tiny rules, because I felt that they were just guidelines and I needed to be flexible. But at no point would I ever break even the tinniest of infractions. I felt that as the enforcer of the rules and leader (in this respect) I needed to set the example. I knew that nobody was going to get me in trouble, but I knew full well that it would not be fair for me to enforce rules while ignoring them myself. At this time the US NEEDED to follow United Nations Protocol more than any other country. How could they stop India from unilaterally invading Pakistan, or China for reclaiming Taiwan?
But alas, they went in anyway and here we are. The US is stuck in far deeper that they thought. WMD's still haven't been found and have largely been forgotten about. The public has lost interest in the affairs of Iraqi people, and worst of all, the whole world is pissed at the US. They ignored many of the worlds other powers (Remember when Rumsfeld labelled France, Germany and others as "Old Europe"?) which alienates them even more.
In short, the US never should have crossed those fences four years ago. Economic sanctions and negotiations were the way to go. Sure they would have been tough, but a solid front from the United States, the EU, Japan and possibly China and Russia could have gone a long way. Instead the US has divided its allies and united its enemies. Iraq is a more dangerous place now than it was under Saddam, especially since many of the Shi'ite insurgents are under support from Iran. Al Qaeda was not in Iraq before but it is now. China is growing even faster as a super power with every US solider killed, and where there was once great promise there is now bleak possibilities.
Before I sign off, I found this little video on YouTube. It is a pretty moving video of pictures from Iraq, before the war. I fear that it will take a long time before it is ever that beautiful again.
Until next time,