Iraq and Afghanistan: Told you So!

Is there anything more obnoxious than the phrase "I told you so"? Well, get ready, because I did and I'm going to flaunt it.

Remember when the second Gulf War began back in 2003? At the time, I was teaching at a Western Massachusetts college that isn't UMass or Smith, where I'm found these days. Old G. W. Bush timed his war perfectly. The nation had moved beyond wallowing in post-9/11 sorrow and was ready to exact revenge, even if we had to invent a few enemies. There were all manner of nationalistic threats, militaristic songs on the radio, and bellicose promises of God's own justice floating about. Back then I warned that this sort of jingoism was dangerous. I told you so.

The USA, at the time, had already been at war in Afghanistan since October 2001. I didn't support that war, but at least I understood it. Unlike Iraqis, the Afghani Taliban really was connected to 9/11. I recall a friendly debate with a Quaker friend downtown holding a "War is Not the Answer" sign. "You're right," I said to her, "But we can't stop this one. It's too much to expect Americans to turn the other cheek over 9/11." I added, "We will regret going there." Told you so.

Iraq, though, was a farce and I told you that it was a put-up job. I knew from reading U.N. reports there were no weapons of mass destruction, and any damn fool knew that Bush's insinuation that Saddam was connected to 9/11 was stupid. I engaged those who were that stupid and told that not even Bush believed that. Told you so. I also said that Saddam was a paper tiger and that analogies made to Hitler were really dumb, so yes, I told you so on that one too.

Here's another thing I recall. The school in question decided to hold a rally in support of American troops being sent to Iraq. Some people asked me for my support. I said no. I told them that I wanted a rally for those opposed to the utter madness of sending Americans back to Iraq. I didn't support the first Gulf War and certainly wasn't going to endorse the second one. Numerous members of the community excoriated me as unpatriotic. I told them that the patriotic thing to do was to work toward reversing the decision to send troops to Iraq. I also said, stridently, that the U.S. would not see a repeat of Gulf War I. Un huh. I told you so. 

When President Bush declared, "mission accomplished" on May 1, 2003, my response was "Hah! I don't think so." When war-maddened Sunshine Patriots–often led by third-rate Country singers who've never been any closer to combat than they'd been to a cow–started trashing civil liberties, I announced we'd look back at these episodes in shame. Told you so.

The polls caught up to me in 2010, but I held my tongue. Then an August 1, 2014 AP poll showed that 78% of all Americans now think the war in Afghanistan was a failure; 80% think the same about Iraq. More than half think the situation will get worse in each country. I can't hold it back any longer. If you wonder why no one informed people that things weren't going to go well, my response: I told you so.

Sick of hearing this yet? Imagine how pleasant it was when I was being trashed back in 2003-04. I earned the right to be smug because at least I told you so.

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