Sunday, February 3, 2008

I'm still sorry about Iraq.

From last June... I still feel as strongly about this now as I did then.

Citizens of Iraq: I'm an American, and I have something to tell you that is long overdue. It does not come easily. Many people in my country would berate me for saying it, call me a coward, think me morally weak, or even worse – betraying the soldiers who fight on behalf of my freedom. But I do not believe any of that. I believe the those who fear saying what they believe are the true cowards, and are not free at all.

People of Iraq, I would like to tell you I am sorry.

I am sorry for the unjust suffering that my government has inflicted upon you in my name.

I am sorry that at the conclusion of our first war with Iraq when Saddam invaded Kuwait, our former President encouraged you to rise up, promising you our support, and when you did, we let you be killed by the thousands while we did nothing but watch.

I am sorry for a new war that was sold to America with outright lies, half-truths, and omissions of fact. I am sorry that most of us believed them, allowing ourselves to be frightened beyond reason by tales of secret Iraqi weapons, though many truly knowledgeable people knew better. The "yellow-cake" uranium from Africa. The aluminum centrifuges. The mobile poison gas facilities. The "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud."

I am sorry we allowed those who questioned our government's assertions to be bullied into silence, sidelined, punished, or black-listed as un-American, including those of reason within our Congress, our military, and the news media we trusted to objectively inform us and protect our best interests.

I regret a fabricated coalition that was formed to invade your country. Fourty-nine countries, many of whom were present in name only to satisfy American demands. This so-called "coalition" cheapened the true coalitions of history that were created to fight for just and noble causes.

I regret that our soldiers were ordered to leave a worthy cause in Afghanistan to turn it's attentions upon your country, though I trust few of you were sorry to see Saddam ousted. Our soldiers are by-and-large good people with spirit and character. They sacrifice everything to protect their country. The deserve better than they have received, yet they still try to do what is decent and honorable.

I apologize that during the siege of your capital, the short-sightedness of our military planners – so focused on your oil – forgot to protect you and your national treasures from criminals, the mob, and fanatic warlords.

I am sorry that while years were spent planning the invasion of your country, only weeks were spent considering how to deal with what came after. I am sorry we put people in charge that had no credentials other than being ideologically aligned with our President and his staff.

I am deeply sorry that in our rush to oust the tyrant who brutalized your country, we did not study your history, which would have easily foretold the civil unrest and retribution killing which plague you now. Some did foresee this, though again, those voices were silenced or ignored. Without this insight, we allowed your communities to fall into chaos, causing many of you to flee homes your families have owned for generations and see loved ones murdered without cause.

I regret the thousands of people sent to Abu Ghraib to be tortured and humiliated. Torture has been proven time and again to not produce reliable information, though it often works well on American television. I fear our current leaders did not know the difference.

More over, I am deeply sorry that in this rush to war, we took our eyes off the true threats that we all share, and somehow must learn to face together.

Apologies can be hard to come by in uncertain times. They are particularly scarce from this American government.

People of Iraq, America is a nation of good people. We will spill our blood at a moment's notice for a worthy cause, even for people we have never met. 3,500 American soldiers have died, and 20,000 have been wounded for a cause they believe worthy. More innocent Iraqis have died and than can be reliably counted. But our government has betrayed us, and has betrayed you as well. I hope someday soon we will restore our government to one that is worthy of our people – and you will be able to rebuild your country free of tyranny and chaos.

Finally, and most importantly, I am so very sorry that we came to Iraq with the premise of defeating religious fanatics willing to kill for power, while not realizing we had those very same people in charge our own country.


Sting playing Fragile, September 11, 2001

No comments: