Can’t be world’s policeman


Well, guess it’s time to say it.

Told ya so.

More than a decade ago I told you what was going to take place in Iraq. Sectarian violence, civil war, other countries in the region getting involved, rising oil prices, etcetera. All predestined the millisecond the first American soldier stepped foot into Iraq. And here’s a cheerful thought: It’s only going to get worse.

I was wrong about one thing, however. I underestimated the cost. I postulated it might end up costing a trillion dollars. (A trillion is a million million.) That turned out to be wildly wishful thinking. Current estimates now range from two to four trillion.

Why did I get it right? Simple. I ignored the “It’s Tuesday so it’s time to come up with another reason for starting the war” propaganda (72 percent, according to a Gallup poll taken the weekend after the invasion, drank the Bush Kool-Aid), and found out what Middle East experts – foreign service professionals, military officers, journalists, arms inspectors – said was likely to occur. The truth was easily accessible for anyone who cared to search for it.

But, as Shakespeare wrote, “What’s done cannot be undone”.

The larger, seemingly insoluble question is this: Why won’t this country learn the lessons of history?

Much of what’s going on in Iraq had already happened in the Chinese civil war, Vietnam, dozens of smaller conflagrations. Insurgents defeating bigger, better equipped forces. Venal, self-serving, duplicitous politicians blaming the innocent for inevitable failures that are largely their fault. Obviously unprovable after the fact assertions that if only we’d done a little more, sacrificed a little more, things would have been different.

We refuse to accept that we can’t be the world’s policeman, that we can’t fix everything, that other nations resent our interference in their internal affairs, that people in other lands are not like us, but have different cultures, attitudes, and traditions, that huge expenditures of blood and treasure won’t alter the preordained result.

Perhaps this time, finally, painfully, the lesson has been learned.

Don’t hold your breath on that one.

The last word goes to one of America’s foremost songwriters, John Fogerty.

“Day after day another momma’s cryin’

She’s lost her precious child

To a war that has no end.” – Deja Vu (All Over Again).

Brian Johnson