Douglas MacKinnon

I am not a huge fan of director Oliver Stone's, but this decorated combat veteran might have a point when, in a recent interview, he said: "If Bush had spent three months in combat, he would take a whole different view of war. ... He wouldn't be so light. And that includes Cheney and Rumsfeld. They're tough guys, but combat softens you, if anything. It makes you more aware of human frailty and vulnerability. It doesn't make you a coward, but it does teach you. If any of those guys had seen combat, I don't think we would have had this gratuitous decision to go to Iraq, which has cost us greatly."

I don't believe the president's decision to invade Iraq was remotely "gratuitous," but I do wonder whether, if more people with combat experience had been in his inner circle, the decision would not have been delayed - or at least implemented with the understanding that things were going to be bad for a very long time.

Doubt. With Iran assuming the role as the No. 1 threat to world stability, did we remove a natural check and balance with the invasion of Iraq and the destruction of its standing army?

Recently, with regard to the war in Iraq, Vice President Cheney went on Meet the Press and said, "We did not anticipate an insurgency that would last this long." Really? Common sense would seem to scream just the opposite. Imagine if an American city or town were to be invaded by hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers. Would the inhabitants of such a city not fight tooth and nail to expel these foreign invaders? Basic human nature and nationalism would seem to say yes.

Doubt. Is Iraq truly better off now? Is it better off with well over 50,000 of its civilians dead and the possibility of another 250,000 dying in the coming years of war and internal strife?

Doubt. What if Iraq is in the throes of a civil war, and we withdraw, by any definition, no matter the rhetoric of politicians and pundits far from the battle? Should such a scenario come to fruition, it's hard not to believe that almost 3,000 American soldiers and Marines would have perished in vain.

Doubt. It's what keeps Republican leaders up at night, and what might cause them nightmares for years to come.


Douglas MacKinnon

Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of The Secessionist States of America. (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014)

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