This month, the U.S. marked the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, or Operation Iraqi Freedom depending on who you talk to. Regardless of your political leanings, the war has affected this country in many diverse ways: foreign relations, national security and with thousands of grieving families, very personally.
The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 because, according to President Bush, then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had biological weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to the Middle East. The United States and her allies invaded Iraq to disarm Saddam.
What followed was a blurry, bloody and nightmarish clash between Sunni and Shiite, warring factions and the crumbling of Saddam's dictatorship and the rise of a fledgling democracy that played more like a kangaroo court. The American troops, after entering Baghdad, failed to stop the rioting and looting as Iraqis demolished their own city. Eerie reminders of the 1992 L.A. riots filled our TV screens as we watched museums, government buildings and stores pillaged and looted. What none of the news networks bothered to report was the armories were also looted, and these weapons would be used by pissed off Iraqi insurgents to kill U.S. troops.
Five years later, the surreal war, filled with its rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs, imbedded reporters, life in the Green Zone, suicide bombers and ethnic clashes, seems less and less real for us civilians back home. For those troops fighting, the war is every day. They live, sleep, eat and drink war. They're training prepared them to do their jobs with honor despite the stress and bullshit. I don't buy the line spewed from the mouths of politicians that our troops are fighting for our freedoms in this case. They're fighting to stay alive. They're fighting because if they don't, the soldier fighting next to them might die.
The men and women in uniform are doing what they've been programmed and trained to do: they're following orders. They're marching into the most violent place on Earth. They don't do it for mom or apple pie; they do it because they were told to by a corrupt administration.
I suppose the war has become ingrained into our collective consciousness. It is part of America. After 9/11, when the World Trade Center was a pile of twisted metal and ash rained down on lower Manhattan, we knew al-Qaeda was responsible. We did what Americans do when our nation is attacked - we rally around the flag, paint the worlds "Let's Roll" on military fighter planes and bomb the fuckers back to the Stone Age.
Except in this case, we took our eyes off the ball, or more appropriately, someone making our strategic and intelligence decisions took their eye off the ball. We kicked the Taliban out of Afghanistan and set our sights on Osama bin Laden. Yet there was one small problem: instead of concentrating on smoking Osama out of his cave, we diverted our attention to Iraq.
There began a war based on faulty intelligence and miscalculations. According to Vice President Cheney, our troops would be greeted as liberators when they entered Baghdad. After Saddam's statue fell, the Iraqis wanted us to get the fuck out of their country. But, like the annoying house guests we were, we overstayed our welcome.
So do we have war fatigue? Are we tired? The Democrats are calling for an immediate pull out of our troops, while the Republicans say we should stay in and get the "job" done, whatever the "job" is. Some claim our national security is at stake if we withdraw our troops. Sen. John McCain said we could be in Iraq for 100 years. I'm sorry, but if your military has to be entrenched anywhere for 100 years, you probably shouldn't go to war in the first place.
The war is part of America. We have become a war nation. As perverse as it sounds, the longer the war stretches on, the better it can be for our economy. All of our manufacturing jobs are drying up and relocating to foreign countries. When you call tech support, you're connected with someone from Bangladesh. The products we buy are all made overseas. America's production isn't really thriving, except in the military industrial complex.
Yes, the bane of conspiracy theorists and peacenik hippies will eventually save us. The good ol' military industrial complex is where the manufacturing jobs are. From the airplanes and helicopters to the missiles and armaments used to blow the shit out of Third World villages, Uncle Sam has a wargasm for the military industrial complex. The safest bet for investors is to put all your money in the defense industry, because as paranoid and batshit crazy our political leaders are now, they'll be really rabid for war after McCain is elected. Some of the companies you should invest in if you want to ride the wave of prosperity for the 21st Century include: Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Northrop Grumman Corp., General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co., Boeing, United Technologies, Science Applications International Corp., and L-3 Communications.
As the war lingers on, the defense industry will create new military technologies and vehicles and that means big profits. America produces soldiers and weapons it sends around the world to police other countries. The biggest distortion is when people claim America is not the world's policeman. Bullshit! We are the world's policeman! Who do you think will save us from the falafel-munching religious bomb-wearing zealots? The Norwegians? The Belgians?
Nope, it's good old American know-how and innovation, shipping soldiers halfway around the world to bomb the crap out of some mosque or rat-infested building to take out "insurgents" or "extremists" or whoever we're shooting at that day.
But here's the thing: No matter where you stand on the war, the military or national security, numbers don't lie. This week it was reported 4,000 Americans were killed in this war since it began in 2003. That's more than the people killed in 9/11, which comes to about 3,000. A 2006 Lancet survey estimated 654,965 Iraqi casualties from March 2003 until June of 2006. According to the U.S. government, total costs of the war as of March 2008 was $501 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the war would cost taxpayers $1.9 trillion.
So consult your financial advisors today and get a portfolio in the defense industry. The world may be headed to hell, but that doesn't mean you can't cash in on slaughter and mayhem!