in march, 2003, in a press conference to announce the attack, george w. bush stated three objectives for the armed invasion of iraq: "to disarm iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end saddam hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the iraqi people". so, three and a half years in, where do we stand?
1) regarding wmd's, many people continue to be curious about what we knew before the war began, but how about since? who remembers dubya's speech from may 29th, 2003, in poland, where he said: "we found the weapons of mass destruction"? really? and am i the only one that remembers the march, 2004 black tie press dinner when the commander in chief of the US armed forces and the man personally responsible for over 2,800 service fatalities in iraq since the invasion (we'll set aside discussions about the 21,000+ wounded for now) joked to a series of photographs of him poking about the oval office that "those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere... no, no weapons over there... maybe under here?" he JOKED. (i guess john kerry just doesn't have the delivery...) with apologies to craig kilborn for stealing, "remember the good ole days when the only thing the president was trying to cover up was a stain?" (and lest anyone be confused, here's george w. bush himself, in his september 9, 2004 speech in pennsylvania: "i recognize that we didn't find the stockpiles we all thought were there").
2) somewhat telling to me, among all the charges leading to the recent and us-orchestrated prosecution and conviction of saddam hussein, that there was not one allegation of state-sponsorship of terrorists, let alone evidence or even an excuse for why it had been alleged in the first place. (from that same 2004 speech where dubya admitted no WMD: "we've had no evidence that saddam hussein was involved with september 11th").
3) in 1919, as part of the spoils of war stemming from their victory in the first world war, and according to the secret sykes-picot agreement they formed with the french back in 1916, the british partitioned mesopotamia, taking sovereign control of the villayets of basra, baghdad and mosul, and formed the state of iraq. (conveniently ratified by the league of nations in 1920). apparently, nobody asked the local shia's, sunni's or kurds what they thought of being thrown together as a "people", but it seems that dubya must figure that four score years-worth of colonial border is sufficient to trump four centuries of tribal and religious association... (i wonder how that's working for the israeli's and palestinians?) i checked this morning, and it appears that there have been no fewer than four full-scale kurdish revolts from the concept of being considered an "iraqi people" since the country was first formed, which doesn't count the various kurdish contretemps over the last 15 years. so, remind me again, now that saddam is in the dock, and the kurds have their measure of self-determination, how it is that the "iraqi" people seem to be compelled to spend as much time blowing up each other's mosques as they do improvising IED's with which to register disaffection with the us army?
this all recalls to me the colonial invasion of canada in 1775, when benedict arnold and 600 volunteers took an excursion to montreal and quebec city (by foot, through the maine woods, beginning in the middle of september, suggesting that they didn't learn much about new england weather and terrain in norwich, connecticut) with visions of "liberating" french canada from their british oppressors. now i can't think of two peoples more practised at hating each other and used to competing in a perpetual state of war as the 18th century english and french, (they didn't call it the hundred years war for nothing) but it appears that not one unit of quebecquois helped carry arms against the british, even after daniel morgan (taking over from the wounded arnold in the streets of quebec city) overran all of carleton's barricades in the Lower Town, and was within a few blocks of complete victory. no, there's no love lost for "the english" among quebeckers, but there's even less for a maurading brigade of do-good-ers from the "land of the free" roaming loose under arms and wishing to export their own peculiar brand of "freedom". (i wonder how they translate "due process" for our "guests" in guantanamo?)
yet, vietnam notwithstanding, "here we go again"...