Column by Robert L. Johnson.
Exclusive to STR
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. war against Iraq by saying , “Every one of the more than one million service members that deployed to Iraq, often for multiple tours of duty, deserves our highest praise and deepest debt of gratitude.” Is Hagel correct? Do the American people owe the veterans of the war against Iraq praise and gratitude?
Starting with “praise,” we can surely praise the courage of the troops under fire. They risked their lives and limbs to help their fellow grunts and to keep them safe. Many of them gave up their own lives for the lives of their comrades in arms. Courage is always commendable.
Regarding “gratitude,” I don't think the American people owe the troops any gratitude for fighting in Iraq. Gratitude is defined as “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” To be thankful to the troops for going to war against Iraq, Iraq would have first had to have been a threat to Americans and America. Despite the lies told by the politicians and perpetrated by the media, Iraq was never a threat to us.
One of the lies the politicians told us in order to get support for this horrific and unnecessary war was that Iraq was helping al Qaeda and that Iraqi officials had met with the 9/11 leader and al Qaeda member Mohamed Atta. This was a baldfaced lie; the reality was the opposite: Saddam had kept al Qaeda out of Iraq. In fact, Saddam was very secular, and kept the religious violence that now kills hundreds of Iraqis every month to a minimum.
Another lie the politicians told at the direction of the neoconservatives was that Iraq had nuclear weapons. They constantly talked about mushroom clouds over America if they did not get their war to remove Saddam. The truth was that Iraq did not have any nuclear weapons. The only country in the Middle East that really does have a growing stockpile of nuclear weapons is the Jewish state of Israel. I don't hear any US politicians saying we should invade Israel to remove their real nuclear weapons.
Since Iraq was never a threat to America or to the American people, there is absolutely no reason to owe gratitude to anyone for waging war against a non-threatening nation and people. Instead, veterans and everyone who knows the truth about why the unnecessary war against Iraq was fought should be working hard to educate as many people and other veterans as they can about the facts in order to prevent another unnecessary war.
An American veteran of the war against Iraq who is dying from his wounds wrote an open letter  to Bush and Cheney attacking them for starting the war. He never mentions the neoconservative-promoted religious reasons  for the war, nor does he mention the overly powerful Israel lobby , which controls the bulk of the politicians from both parties as a pimp controls his prostitutes. The veteran states that the Iraq War has made Iran the dominant power in the Middle East. This is incorrect. Iran is not now the dominant power in the Middle East, Israel is. Israel is the only nation in the region that really does have nuclear weapons. The main reason for the Iraq war was Israel's security. Saddam was paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who attacked Israel $25,000. This was not good for Israel, and the Israel lobby made sure their political whores from both parties in Congress and in the White House removed the threat by misusing the American military in a war against Iraq. Retired Israeli General Avraham Rotem further proves the war in Iraq was for Israel's benefit when he said less than a week prior to the war starting, “A (US) war with Iraq serves Israel's strategic interests because it wants Saddam gone. Someone says, 'You sit back, we'll take care of it'--what's better than that?” (St. Petersburg Times, March 15, 2003, p. 5A).
Now they're doing the exact same thing in regards to Iran. They're going through the motions of appearing that they're searching for diplomatic resolutions to Iran's nuclear program so they can have the appearance of being the good guys who were forced into a war with Iran. However, they are not saying that Iran's nuclear program has never been shown to be for nuclear weapons, and is instead to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes such as energy and for medical reasons. Time magazine ran an article that pointed out that there is no evidence Iran is building nuclear weapons. The article stated , “Iran’s current enrichment efforts remain under scrutiny by the IAEA, whose inspectors certify that no material has been diverted for any possible covert military program. And any move to break out and build a weapon would be obvious, first and foremost, by the need to enrich uranium to anything above the levels required for Iran’s peaceful purposes — less than 4% for reactor fuel; 20% for the Tehran reactor that produces medical isotopes. And on the latter, the stockpile would necessarily be limited — an issue that will be a focus in negotiations that look set to resume in the coming months. Weapons-grade uranium must be enriched to above 90%.”
The American revolutionary and Deist Thomas Paine wrote of the ancient Jews in The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition , "The Jews made no converts; they butchered all." Looking at modern Israel, it doesn't look like they've changed much except now they get US politicians to use American troops to do their butchering for them.
If we really do care about the troops and the veterans, we should help them see their real enemy is not Iran but the politicians in Washington. This is the only way this horrific deadly cycle will end.