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Marc Yacht: Nation still paying for George W. Bush's Iraq obsession

“The truth will set you free!” Whether a believer or doubter, none can deny the wisdom from John 8:32. Few need to heed the call more than America’s politicians.

Both parties are guilty of using lies and deceit to acquire votes and power. Such mendacity undermines American institutions and way of life. The United States is a nation in decline.

As lies go, the invasion of Iraq tops the list. Lies are not new to justify U.S. wars. The Gulf of Tonkin episode validated the escalation of the Vietnam conflict. The incident as described may never have happened, according to released classified data and a book published by former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara before his death. The pressure to escalate the war required justification not truth. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died; add 153,000 wounded.

The nation’s misguided Korean conflict came about due to President Harry Truman’s irrational fear of a communist takeover, “red baiting” by Congress and right wing conservative groups. Thirty-six thousand five-hundred and sixteen U.S. forces died. Vietnam appears somewhat stabilized since the conflict; Korea remains troubled. Iraq may represent this nation’s most costly mistake. Al-Qaeda, ISIS and anti-western terrorist groups flourish due to U.S. failed policies and distorted information fed to a shocked post-9/11 public.

Iraq holds the record for public lies and misinformation by the George W. Bush administration. Charles Lewis’ book quantifies 935 lies that propelled America’s ill-fated adventure to topple Saddam Hussein. Arguments suggesting the war was based on faulty intelligence ring hollow as the Bush regime demanded intelligence to justify the Iraq invasion. Those who challenged the ginned-up evidence were marginalized or fired. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Vice President Dick Cheney fed Bush’s Iraq obsession.

Suggesting Iraq’s connection to 9/11 represented the first lie, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, another. The bogus “information” included that aluminum tubes proved Iraq’s nuclear program and forged documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in West Africa. Despite contrary claims, no evidence was found that Saddam Hussein could develop smallpox. The whoppers digested by a vulnerable American public continued.

There were also suggestions that the war would be easy, and the flagrant misinformation about Pvt. Jessica Lynch’s capture, treatment and rescue. The Iraq invasion destabilized the Middle East, and is currently responsible for 8,800 U.S. military deaths. Two trillion U.S. dollars spent, and the nation is entrapped with the growth of ISIS and al-Qaeda. Solutions are elusive. Lucrative U.S. contracts benefitted the friends of the Bush administration. American families continue to suffer the tragedies of lost husbands, sons and daughters due to Bush’s Iraq obsession. The war cannot be justified, the deaths cannot be defended and the cost is unacceptable.

Prior presidents have lied dragging the nation into conflict. Does the nation ignore crime? Perhaps it is too late to review the distortions that involved us in Korea and Vietnam, but the players for the Iraq debacle are still alive and vulnerable to needed accountability. As clarification continues relating to the Iraq War, the nation must understand what has been sacrificed aside from the destruction of precious lives and property. Recognize the costs to quality education, U.S. healthcare and mental health needs. Iraq’s $ 2 trillion and counting could have addressed bridge and road repair, transportation and decaying municipal systems. Countries have been bankrupted by war. It may happen here. The solutions start with holding those accountable for the Iraq debacle. The American soul is at risk.

Dr. Marc Yacht is a retired physician living in Hudson, Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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