And then there’s the wasted money. In its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting reported an estimated $60 billion of U.S. taxpayer money had disappeared by fraud and waste due to lax oversight, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents.
Even more appalling is the Veterans Administration scandal that has our surviving veterans consigned to long waiting lists and, in some cases, shoddy treatment.
All of this was set up by the administration of President George W. Bush, based on cherry-picked intelligence, outright lies and an appalling lack of intellectual curiosity from people who should have known better. It has been compounded by the Obama administration that told us we were leaving behind a stable and secure democracy when we pulled out the last of our troops in 2011.
It was anything but.
The deteriorating Iraq situation is a disaster for the U.S. and a disgrace that now spans two presidencies. In the era when the U.S. military commenced the Iraq war by talking about “going in with overwhelming force,” what we quickly learned was there were no weapons of mass destruction. Instead of rose-petal parades, our troops ended up in a classic quagmire. We “won” a shallow military war and lost the political battle. We created a vacuum that is now being filled by religious fanaticism and brute sectarian violence. The terror state of Iran is now bolstering our “ally.”
Presidents, congressmen and generals, Republicans and Democrats, Bushes and Clintons, Lugars and Bayhs and the press all got it wrong. Mistakes were compounded. This is an appalling disaster of this era of American governance.
And this is just a preview for Afghanistan. We never learned the lessons of Vietnam.
When I graduated from high school in 1974, we watched more than 50,000 Americans die and in 1973, Henry Kissinger’s declaration of “peace is at hand.” In 1975, we watched North Vietnamese tanks and the Viet Cong sack Saigon.