The Middle East’s Lost Decade

BERLIN – The United States has waged three wars since Al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001: against Al Qaeda, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq. The first two were forced upon the US, but the third was the result of a willful, deliberate decision by former President George W. Bush, taken on ideological grounds and, most likely, for personal reasons as well.

Had Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and their neocon allies been forthright about their intentions – to bring down Saddam Hussein by means of war, thereby creating a new, pro-Western Middle East – they never would have received the support of Congress and the American public. Their vision was both naive and reckless.

So a threat – Iraqi weapons of mass destruction – had to be created. As we now know, the threat was based on lies (aluminum tubes for a nuclear-weapons program, for example, meetings between the 9/11 plot leader, Mohamed Atta, and Iraqi officials in Prague, and even glaring forgeries like supposed Iraqi orders for yellowcake uranium from Niger).

Such were the justifications for a war that was to claim the lives of almost 5,000 US soldiers and more than 100,000 Iraqis. Add to that the millions more who were injured and displaced from their homes, as well as the destruction of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. For this, the US alone spent up to $3 trillion.