by Bill Hughes
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” - George Santayana
Who can ever forget Dubya’s premature freedom rant on board the aircraft carrier, “USS Abraham Lincoln,” way back on May 1, 2003. The backdrop for this slice of national insanity was a huge sign, worthy of Germany’s notorious propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. It read: “Mission Accomplished.” Dubya, a failure as president if there ever was one, falsely and recklessly declared to the world “an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq.”
Many in the Establishment media, to its shame, swooned all over Dubya’s phony theatrics. Chris Matthews, who should have known better, (he once worked for the Speaker of the House, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill), was probably one of the worse offenders. He labeled Dubya a “hero, who won the war, an effective commander... Women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president.” Yea, Dubya was a “hero” alright, Mr. Matthews, but only in your, his, and Dick Cheney’s minds. Greg Mitchell, a pundit for “The Nation,” put it all in perspective on the tenth anniversary of that silly stunt. He wrote: “When Bush’s jet landed on the aircraft carrier, American casualties stood at 139 killed and 542 wounded. That was over 4,300 American, and hundred of thousands of Iraqi fatalities, ago.”
As for the financial cost of that lethal conflict, which lasted an additional seven years, “Mother Jones,” on March 19, 2013, put it at around “$6 trillion with interest paid through 2053.” I thought Ted Carpenter of the Cato Institute hit the nail on the head about any bragging by Dubya or anybody else in his failed administration regarding a U.S. victory in Iraq. On August 16, 2010, Carpenter said: “The verdict rendered by the ancient Greek General Pyrrhus of Epirus that ‘another such victory - (i.e. a supposed winning battle with the Romans at Heracleus while suffering very heavy casualties) - and we are undone’ should be the epitaph for the American mission in Iraq.’”
With respect to any U.S. military intervention in Syria, I feel like I’ve seen it all before. I recall testifying at a hearing of the Baltimore City Council on November 20, 2002, in support of a City Council Resolution #02-0944, entitled, “In Opposition to a Declaration of War Against Iraq.” I was very proud of our City Council for taking such an important moral and legal position against any pre-emptive U.S. strike of Iraq. Alas, the “Baltimore Sun” disparaged it for daring to even hold such a public hearing.
I told the Committee that there was “no justification whatsoever for any U.S. war against Iraq.” I added: “If we had a foreign policy based on the values and principles of our Republic, and not on the role of ‘Global Cop,’ we could have huge peace dividends for our people. And that money, in the billions of dollars could be used to make our streets safer, educate our children, restore fully this city, and renew the economy of our state.” If only that “empty suit” Dubya would have agree with the then-Peace Movement and its opposition to the war, our America would be a happier place today and look vastly different.
All of this brings me to my memorable visit to Israel many years ago. Back in the early December, 1977, I stood on the Golan Heights on land occupied by the Israeli Defense Forces. I could see Damascus, the capital of Syria in the distance about forty miles away. The late Menachem Begin, a former underground fighter against the British Mandate and a member of the militant Irgun group, was the Prime Minister of Israel at that time. During that 17-day tour of the country, I felt very safe when I visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Caesarea, Haifa, the Lebanese border, and other sites, including a side trip to Gaza. I could have never said the same about trips that I’ve made to some American cities.
I recall, too, paying a visit to the revered Western Wall, which is steeped in the history of the ancient Hebrews; to Masada; to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; and, to one of Islam’s holiest places, the “Dome of the Rock.” The Arab merchants in Jerusalem and the Jewish ones in Tel Aviv couldn’t have been friendlier. I even had a beer at the bar in the King David Hotel and rode a camel on the perimeter of Jerusalem.
Today, the U.S. targets in Syria can easily be reached with cruise missiles and rockets by our warships and aircrafts stationed in and around the Mediterranean Sea. However, this critical fact needs to be underscored, vulnerable targets in Israel are also virtual sitting ducks for Syria’s lethal weaponry. It’s true Israel has a sophisticated anti-missile system in place, but its effectiveness is at best problematic. Bottom line: It remains untested in real-war conditions. Israel’s Achilles’ heel is Dimona in the Negev desert. It is supposedly the nuclear weapon site that experts say holds Israel’s nukes, one or more nuclear reactors, and enough plutonium to make 300 nuclear weapons. Direct hits on the Dimona facility, and other sites like it in Israel, along with its nuclear submarine base at Haifa, could unleash toxic radioactive waste that may make the Holy Land uninhabitable for hundreds of years to come!
If Iran is added to this war mix, think - Armageddon! There will be no genuine winners. A U.S. war with Syria may become, if launched, yet another classic example of a Pyrrhic victory!
Editor’s Note: Bill Hughes is a native of Baltimore. He’s an attorney, author, professional actor and hobbyist photographer. In his salad days, he worked on the docks as a longshoreman and played on three championship soccer teams. ©Bill Hughes,2013.