In a further attempt to preserve his legacy, President Bush delivered a rousing speech in Nashville in which he said that he invaded Iraq to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. According to the New York Times, he told the audience that freedom was a God-given right and “every human being bears the image of our maker.”
There’s just one big problem with Bush’s reasoning: What he says just ain’t so and it’s just not reality.
For one thing, Bush’s invasion and occupation have produced the deaths of an estimated one million Iraqi people. They are not free. They are not enjoying the fruits of democracy. They are dead, thanks to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Dead people cannot experience freedom or democracy.
Now, Bush would argue that those deaths were worth his purported attempt to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. One big problem, however, is that he didn’t ask all those dead Iraqis if they preferred to die in his quest. They might well have chosen life under Saddam Hussein to death in Bush’s crusade.
By the way, this was the same cavalier mindset that characterized the Bill Clinton and the George W. Bush administrations, whose brutal sanctions against Iraq contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.
In fact, when you add the number of Iraqis killed in the Persian Gulf intervention to the number killed by the sanctions to the number killed in the invasion and occupation, you reach a number of dead Iraqis that is not exactly small. It’s equal to about one-fourth the number of people killed in the Holocaust.
Don’t forget also the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled to other countries to escape the chaos and violence produced by Bush’s war and occupation. They are not experiencing the joys of freedom and democracy to which Bush referred in his speech in Nashville. They are living lives of utter desperation and poverty in a foreign land.
Contrary to what Bush might think, not even the people of Iraq are experiencing the joys of freedom and democracy. How could they given that they’re living under one of the most oppressive and brutal military occupations in history? Torture. Murder. Denial of due process. Denial of trial by jury. Cruel and unusual punishments. Bombs. Missiles. Checkpoints. Curfews. Suicide bombers. Arbitrary arrests. Censorship. Gun control. Indefinite incarcerations. I wonder if Bush realizes that there are some 26,000 prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq who have languished there for years without trial.
What Bush still will not permit himself to confront is that his invasion and occupation of Iraq had nothing to do with freedom and democracy or WMDs or al-Qaeda or the terrorists or the Muslims or with anything else, except one thing: regime change — the ouster of Saddam Hussein from office and his replacement with a U.S.-approved regime. It’s a goal, ironically, that wasn’t even achieved, given that the regime now governing Iraq has aligned itself with the radical Islamic regime in Iran.
In a sense, Bush’s aim in Iraq was no different from political activity here in the United States, when Republican and Democratic presidents attempt to oust people in the opposite party from office in order to replace them with one of their own. The only difference is that in Iraq, it took an invasion and occupation to accomplish that. Bush’s war on Iraq was simply “an extension of politics, but by other means.”
If freedom and democracy really was the be-all and end-all for President Bush, would he really have spent the last several years funneling millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer aid to his close friend and partner Pervez Musharraf, the unelected brutal military dictator of Pakistan? The reason that Bush has never supported democracy in Pakistan is because it might produce a regime that isn’t favorable to the U.S. government. Given that freedom and democracy in Pakistan are irrelevant issues for President Bush, why would they be important issues for him in Iraq?
If Bush really invaded Iraq to bring freedom to the Iraqi people, then why has he treated them so badly? Let’s not forget Abu Ghraib, which consisted of torture, sex abuse, and murder of Iraqi people, even while Bush was publicly announcing, falsely, that “we don’t torture.”
Moreover, how many Iraqis fleeing the country has Bush permitted into the United States? Answer: While other countries have accepted hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees, Bush had steadfastly refused to permit more than a few thousand Iraqis to come to the United States.
If Bush was so concerned about helping the Iraqi people, then why did he permit their museums to be plundered and looted during the early parts of the invasion?
Would Bush have treated the British people like he has the Iraqi people given similar circumstances?
The truth — which perhaps Bush simply cannot bring himself to confront, perhaps from a psychological standpoint — is that neither he nor other U.S. officials give a hoot for the Iraqi people and they never have. All that has mattered from the time of the Persian Gulf War, to the sanctions, to the invasion, to the occupation is the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the installation of pro-U.S. regime in Iraq. That’s why they have cavalierly been willing to sacrifice any number of Iraqis over the years to achieve their political aims.
Even more ironic is the fact that in the process of supposedly bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq, Bush has brought to the American people a regime of torture, snitches, military tribunals, warrantless searches, immunity for crimes, denial of due process, denial of trial by jury, cancelation of habeas corpus, NSA spying on Americans, and other infringements on civil liberties. No doubt the president has convinced himself that all these measures are freedom and democracy too.