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Will a defeated Iraq really spark peace in the Middle East?
Most of the Americans reading these articles have never known the horrors of war. If you are a college student today, chances are that the Gulf War, in which this country suffered ridiculously low casualties, is a vague memory, little more than a fuzzy image from childhood. The Vietnam War, in which the US lost 58,000 soldiers, is a movie image, oddly celebrated in spite of its tragic course. Moreover, we know little of the people killed by our munitions and soldiers in these wars – the millions who died in Vietnam, or the hundreds of thousands who died in the first Persian Gulf War. It is perhaps because of this that we go so blithely into this war. That we can lose, something we learned the hard way thirty years ago, is lost on our current brain trust. That war is a bloody, cruel, and horrifying experience – this is something that we may soon learn.
We may force the capitulation of the Iraqi regime. The US has the most powerful military on Earth. But in the next couple of years we are certain to learn the hard way that the simple toppling of the Iraqi regime will do little to make this world a safer place. Already we have reports that throughout the Muslim world our treatment of Iraq is spawning a new generation of young militants whose only desire is the destruction of the United States. They protest, they organize, and ultimately they will take this battle to our shores once again. We can do little to stop them. Actually, we seem to be doing everything we can to encourage them. History may judge George W. Bush as little match for Osama Bin Laden.
Our leaders respond to all critics with intimidation, promising that anyone who does not stand with us will eventually be punished. They seem to think that they have the absolute power to shape the world without the cooperation of anyone else. They will soon find out that they are wrong. They may overthrow Hussein, but they are foolish if they think that this will make the world a safer place. It is little wonder that most Europeans, Latin Americans, and Asians believe that George W. Bush is a greater threat to global security than Saddam Hussein.
On September 12, 2001, an astounding array of nations declared their support for the United States in its desire to eradicate terrorism. As we stand today, most of those who sympathized on that day now recoil in horror at the bullying tendencies of the Bush Administration, along with its decision to attack a country that had nothing – and I repeat emphatically NOTHING – to do with those events. The damage we have done to these relationships will come back to haunt us. Undoubtedly.
These facts beg the question. Will we win the war? Likely we will. But will we win the peace?