In 2003 President Bush invaded Iraq. Even though,
• Saddam Hussein's dictatorship kept radical Moslems in check
• Saddam's defense forces were contained by a no-fly zone
• The President failed to present evidence that Saddam possessed or was developing weapons of mass destruction
• Even if he was, such weapons would not have threatened the U.S. At worst, they would have established a balance of power with Israel in the Middle East
• The reasons President G.H.W. Bush gave against invading Iraq in 1991 were never refuted: it would fracture U.S. relations with other countries in the area; there was no viable replacement for Saddam, no plan on how occupying a multi-ethnic and religiously divided nation would work, and it would destroy Iraq's balance of power with Iran.
• No proof was given that Saddam was an imminent threat to the U.S., or that invading was a "last resort."
• Congress had no Constitutional authority to "authorize" the President to invade; it only had the authority to declare war on Iraq.
Hence, it was clear from the beginning that the invasion of Iraq unjustified and therefore unjust.
Instead of invasion, U.S. policy should have taken the complete opposite course. The U.S. led a crippling sanctions regime against that nation, causing several hundreds of thousands of deaths. In the post 9/11 world and threatened by terrorism, the U.S. should have lifted sanctions and enlisted the cooperation of both Saddam and Iran to counter the influence and power of radical Sunni terrorists.
But it hardly matters to ask why Bush invaded Iraq. The real question is, why did Congress and the American people let him?
Hatred and hysteria.
After the U.S. air defenses allowed the destruction of 9/11 and an Arabic terrorist group was blamed, the temptation was to show the world who was boss and punish anyone who was 1) Arab, and 2) a bad guy. Because Saddam fit the criteria, it didn't matter that Saddam's agenda was completely different from Osama bin Laden's. Post-9/11 hysteria prompted us to scapegoat Saddam.
And those who stood up to protest were denounced anti-American traitors, Saddam apologists, and even anti-Semites.
On the domestic front, I feel like history is repeating itself. President Obama is running away from facts and logic in order to "fix" the U.S. healthcare system. Like Bush, Obama is using hatred and hysteria – hatred of greedy insurance companies, hysteria over failing healthcare – but is attacking all the wrong aspects:
• He wants to tax "Cadillac" health care plans – that is, punish those whose health care is too good.
• He is forcing everyone to purchase insurance from private insurance companies– even those in good health who would save money without it. It is not unfair to call this "fascist" because it involves government control, invasion of our liberties, and private profits.
• He confuses two issues -- poor sick people who need assistance, and "insurance." Insurance is supposed to protect individuals financially from future conditions.
Mandating that insurance companies serve those with pre-existing conditions is not "insurance," it is forced charity. Direct government assistance to those in need, or to hospitals, makes much more sense than forcing insurance companies to accept all applicants.
At the same time, Obamacare does little to nothing to address the heart of the problem, which is high cost and restricted access due to government policy:
• States with anti-competitive insurance laws, driving up the cost of insurance
• Licensing laws that allow members of the AMA to essentially enjoy a cartel on medical services – again driving up costs.
• The lengthy FDA approval process and patent laws, which drive up the costs of drugs and medical technology.
The problem with the affordability and accessibility of health care is caused by the absence of the free market. Not even charity hospitals are allowed in most states!
Yet, those who protest this unprecedented attack on personal freedom are denounced as corporate apologists, defenders of the status quo, and heartless SOB's who want poor sick people to just die.
In 2003, the hate-filled and hysterical Right attacked all who disagreed with them. In 2009, the hate-filled and hysterical Left is doing the same.
In the end, I suspect that healthcare reform will be to Obama what Iraq was to Bush – an expensive failure. All caused because he scapegoats the wrong people.
In the wake of 9/11, Bush should have lifted sanctions on Iraq and made overtures to Saddam. Instead, he engaged in the worst possible course. In the wake of our healthcare crises, Obama should be fighting for free-market reforms. Instead, he's engaging in the worst possible course.
As Yogi Berra said, it's déjà vu all over again.