Editorial: Wrong war, tragic outcome

The disastrous Iraq War — launched by former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on untrue claims that the small Mideast nation possessed horror weapons — seems headed for a possible debacle.

Sunni fanatics fighting against the majority Shiite government seized the major cities of Mosul and Tikrit this week, and are grabbing northern regions of the country. U.S.-trained government troops reportedly fled, some ditching their weapons and uniforms.

Although several different Sunni militias are battling around Iraq, the victorious northern group — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — is so zealous it has been labeled “too extreme for al-Qaida.” Its murderous troops perform public amputations and crucifixions, displaying them on social media.

If the U.S. puppet government falls, it will be a tragic finale for the worst blunder in recent American history.

After the 9/11 terror attack roused intense American patriotism, the Bush-Cheney White House beat drums for an invasion of Iraq — although Iraq had no connection to the mostly Saudi suicide “martyrs” who struck New York and Washington.

Bush and Cheney claimed that Iraq had secret weapons of mass destruction, and was in league with terrorists who would use those weapons on America. The White House said Iraq’s people would welcome U.S. troops as liberators, and that Iraq’s oil wealth would pay the cost of a U.S. invasion.

Swept along by the patriotic fervor, Congress approved the attack. Only a few brave Democrats like Barack Obama and West Virginia’s late Sen. Robert C. Byrd warned that it was a mistake — but they were ignored, and the White House let slip the dogs of war in March 2003.

Nearly nine years of fighting in Iraq killed 4,487 young Americans, plus 1,554 civilian contractors, and cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $1 trillion. Iraqi civilian deaths have been estimated from 100,000 to 600,000.

Every Bush-Cheney claim proved to be false. There were no horror weapons. Iraq wasn’t in league with terrorists. The Iraqi people didn’t welcome “liberators.” And Iraq’s oil didn’t pay U.S. costs. The war was completely unnecessary.

President Obama removed American troops at the end of 2011. Since then, Iraq has been a faltering democracy elected by the country’s Shiite Muslim majority — while the bitter Sunni minority wages endless rebel attacks. Last year, the body count was 8,860. This year, nearly 800 died in May alone.

The Bush-Cheney White House squandered $1 trillion and thousands of American lives for this tragic, needless outcome.

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