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LOOKING BACK: 2010 – the downside

December 30, 2010

This is the traditional week of the year filled with lists of the “best of” and “worst of” 2010, and like everyone else, I have viewed or read my share.

One such commentary saddened me as I listened to the pundits 2010 view on the Iraq war.  In 2001, as plans for it surfaced (BEFORE 9-11) in the Bush Administration, war was declared on “Terror” and we invaded Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden…all the while building up for the already planned invasion of Iraq, I felt like I stood alone in the world, as a naysayer cautioning that we would not succeed.  I was the unpatriotic one as I pooh-poohed the weapons of mass destruction theory and suggested it was limited to the biological weapons provided to Iraq and sanctioned by the neo-cons during the Reagan administration – so of course, they knew Saddam had them-they had come to be when the US was using Iraq as a weapon against Iran in the 80s.  I was chastised by friends for suggesting that Iraq’s Sunni culture stretched back over a 1000 years and that mixed with a heritage of warring tribes left little hope that in a quick invasion we could “save” them from their ways and create a democracy that would prosper, grow and become the model for bringing democracy to the middle east.  What in the world were those people smoking in the White House to be so deluded and dismissive of facts? And how in the world did they get a nation of reasonably intelligent citizens to go along with it? Oh yes, I was told I wrong in that thinking…after all, the one thing the US government does pretty well was WAR, I was told by a friend.  Not to worry, it would turn out all right.

And so it began…and did not go well as it not only contributed to a 10 trillion dollar shift in the deficit projections for 2010, created a tremendous tragedy of loss of American and Iraqi lives, and has not succeeded yet in establishing a solid democracy.

Projected positive balance in the early 2000s was $5 trillion by 2010 and thus provided the reasoning for the Bush tax CUTS in time of war.  Unfortunately, since the Bush Administration chose NOT to include war expenses in the budget for either the Afghan or Iraqi war, it took a while to realize that war was eating into that projected surplus – then the collapse of the teetering economy began in the early second half of the decade, and today we stand frightened to death of a $ 5 trillion deficit.  Congrats to the US; we managed between war and greed to achieve a $10 trillion swing that today still threatens the international economy.  We sure showed the world how powerful we are, didn’t we? Or did we just make way for the rise of BRIC?

Today, as we look forward to 2011, what are the projections?  Now the pundits mostly concur, the Iraqi war will not accomplish the mission – a victory we already celebrated years ago!  Sadly, we are seeing my projections come to be.  I fear this will be long remembered as a horrendous misstep by our government – making 19th century policies of Slavery, Manifest Destiny, and Extermination of the Indigenous Peoples look like child’s play.  And that does not even factor in the lost lives – not just of American soldiers who died, and those that were physically AND mentally injured, but the horrendous cost in lives and injuries to the Iraqis themselves-a loss much greater than our own.  No wonder I feel saddened. 

Add to that, Afghanistan, the Housing Crisis, the Economy, Lack of Jobs/job skills shifts, the worsening split between the political parties, and one could quickly experience a major sinking spell !

 Thank goodness, we can balance some ofthis with the oh so many positives in the world, our country and our personal lives that also surround us and keep us optimistic and moving forward!

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