Last month marked the 19th anniversary of the creation of our government’s boastful "Shock and Awe" slogan, the term we used to start our attack on Iraq – an invasion that resulted in the killing of over one million Iraqis, by some estimates, and the death of over 4,000 American service members.
Sadly, our justification for going to war was based on a lie.
Iraq posed no threat to the United States. There were no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to be found. Still, we went ahead and destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan, and supported the decimation of Libya. We also invaded Syria. Why? Because American politicians and pundits were trying to prove that the United States is a superpower that can bully other countries for hegemonic objectives. Simply put, those bloodthirsty zealots didn’t like Hussein in Iraq or Ghaddafi in Libya. And they sure can’t stomach Assad of Syria. So, we attacked them under the pretense of fighting terrorism.
Sadly, Russia has now followed America’s playbook, attacking Ukraine, a sovereign nation that offers no imminent threat to it, to expand its power. Putin claims the country is led by Nazis, thugs, and terrorists. He accuses Ukraine of having WMDs. Sound familiar? I guess Putin is saying that if the U.S. can invade nations, so can Russia.
Unfortunately, the Ukrainian people are collateral damage, caught in the middle of a continuous battle between Russia and the United States as they each try to prove who is the strongest world superpower. So, out of support for the innocent Ukrainian women and children, America just can’t sit back and not condemn the bombing of buildings and the killing of civilians, even with our past misdeeds. To be honest, however, it’s hard for us to credibly judge Russia for their actions since we don’t forcefully condemn Israel when they disproportionally bomb Lebanon or the West Bank.
Though we are a superpower, even our most militaristic politicians and pundits are cautious of U.S. intervention in Ukraine, for fear of unleashing World War III or starting a nuclear war. American foreign policy hawks and warmongers are always complaining about America looking "weak" if we don’t threaten the use of our military might.
Well, look at us now.
What do you think Iran and North Korea are thinking? Sure, we can invade modest countries like Iraq and Libya, but what about Russia, China, and even North Korea, with their small nuclear arsenal? Ruthless leaders get their countries into wars, and civilians and military personnel suffer the consequences. Make no mistake: These wars aren’t based on freedom and democracy – they’re fueled by greed and power.
I am sick and tired of our politicians, specifically war hawks and their enablers, always pushing an agenda of America looking "strong" and leading as the world’s only superpower. Well, it looks as though Russia has indeed followed our lead in attacking a sovereign country under the false guise of a made-up threat, and showing off their superpower prowess in the process. Also, our arrogance may have "led" North Korea to advance their nuclear program and Iran to move forward with theirs. If we make it out of this Ukraine mess intact, let’s think twice before releasing "Shock and Awe" and starting any more unnecessary wars.
May all the victims of the Iraq War rest in peace.
CMD Master Sgt. Dennis Fritz (ret.) is currently an Eisenhower Media Network Fellow. He is a former Research Fellow in the Office of the Under Secretary Defense for Policy, as a member of the Pre-Iraq War policy planning documents review Team. He was also the Principal Advisor to former Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Richard D. Myers, during assignments at Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Space Command.