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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Iraq war hardly the success some claim


By H. Gerald Staub

The Iraq war is far from over, but the revisionists, such as Dick Cheney, are already in full swing. In a commentary published April 15 in The Advertiser, Victor Davis Hanson trumpeted that the "wisdom of the Bush administration turned out to be right."

Before he gets too giddy about his personally revised history of the war and the alleged Bush "wisdom," Hanson would do well to consult the actual facts.

He claims, "Many who damned the war did so mainly to embarrass then-President Bush." In fact, polls in 2003 showed that a majority of Americans supported the invasion. The damning and the nose-dive in support came about later, when Americans realized the Bush administration had knowingly misled them about the rationale for war.

Evidence that the administration had "knowingly" lied was apparent when CIA papers, such as the original National Intelligence Estimate report, were released in 2003 and 2004. There was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, there were no terrorists in Iraq, and there were no WMDs.

Further proof that opposition to the war was not just an effort "to embarrass then-President Bush" is the fact that a Gallup Poll taken last summer, well after Bush had left office, revealed that 58 percent of Americans believed the Iraq war was a mistake.

Hanson also gushed that, last June, Iraq held its first oil auction and that "no American oil company was awarded an oil concession."

Yet, the Bush administration had insisted in 2003 that Iraq oil would pay for its reconstruction. But Iraqi oil production dropped dramatically during the seven-year U.S. occupation, accounting for miniscule revenues that could be applied toward reconstruction. So, contrary to Bush administration blustering, the U.S. taxpayer has had to foot the bill.

No matter that it has taken seven years just for Iraq to be able to conduct an oil auction. And no matter that no U.S. company was awarded a concession, in spite of our vast expenditure of wealth and blood to secure, in Hanson's words "a successful democracy" in Iraq. After all, according to the Bush administration, the war wouldn't cost much (financially) somewhere between $50 billion and $60 billion. That estimate was off by at least $1.5 trillion, and is growing by $500 million per day. The contribution to the U.S. deficit is larger than that incurred as a result of the recent financial meltdown and, again, is still increasing.

Of course, the greater cost of the war is measured not in dollars, but in human sacrifice. As of this month, at least 4,391 members of the U.S. military have died in the war. The number of wounded is over 31,000. Iraqi civilian deaths number at least 100,000 by body count, and the actual toll is estimated much higher.

Considering that the war was entered into under false pretenses as noted above, these vast numbers of U.S. military and Iraqi civilian dead and wounded are a tragic legacy of the "wisdom of the Bush administration."

Fortunately, U.S. military casualties in Iraq have decreased. This is almost entirely due to the fact that, last summer, U.S. troops pulled out of major cities and turned over security to Iraqi forces. With the reduction of U.S. casualties came the commensurate reduction in anti-war protests. Hanson headlined his article by gloating over this reduced "opposition," as if it is a validation of the Bush administration's Iraq adventure. He blithely glosses over the connection between troop withdrawal and reduced anti-war demonstrations.

Furthermore, he chooses to ignore the fact that an average of 300 Iraqis are being killed monthly by roadside and car bombs, rockets, grenades and suicide attacks. Less than a month ago, 59 Iraqis were killed in just one car-bomb explosion, and last week at least 67 more were killed in a single day.

We all hope that peace and some form of democratic government can prevail in that troubled country. The history of our intervention there is still unfolding and, as such, cannot yet be definitively written. Even less acceptable is revisionist history such as that concocted by Hanson.