16:43 GMT25 October 2020
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    Two Democratic congressmen on the House Armed Services Committee called for the “rapid public release of a study on the Army’s lessons learned from the Iraq War” on Thursday.

    The Wall Street Journal noted earlier in the week that the study was finished in 2016 but kept getting "stuck in internal reviews" prior to public disclosure.

    "It's no secret that the Army and, frankly, our entire defense establishment, made serious mistakes and miscalculations in Iraq since 2003," said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), adding that the withholding of the document was "simply to protect the careers and egos of Army brass."

    "This is simply the Army being unwilling to publicly air its mistakes," Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) added.

    "To me this is just ridiculous. It's seeing past the real problem. The real problem is that war doesn't solve anything, and it only makes matters worse," retired Navy Commander Leah Bolger, who is currently the coordinator of World Beyond War and was the first female president of Veterans For Peace, told Sputnik News. "I'm not really sure why they want to withhold this report. It might have to do with funding."

    According to the Journal, the mission in Iraq was "largely unsuccessful." The analysis reportedly blames a lack of troops and resources for the failure.

    The report was eventually withheld from publication entirely, according to the outlet. 

    Sputnik News asked Bolger whether the US military has, in fact, learned its lesson from the Iraq War, a decade and a half after its commencement.

    "The lessons learned from Iraq should be learned by the government of the United States, who tasked the military to take on a war that was of their own creation," she said. "There is no succeeding when there is a falsified mission."

    "I don't think the military is ever held to account for anything, even when they're terribly wrong," she said. "The American government isn't held to account for killing millions of people and spending $2 trillion. I don't think the US government holds the military to account."

    "As far as things that individuals in the military do, as far as killing civilians or destroying property that was not necessary, we did see some accountability, but people get picked on as scapegoats," Bolger said. "We saw with the torture situation that was going on at Abu Ghraib: a few small, lower-ranking enlisted folks were punished for that, but the military as a whole was not held to account for these processes that were approved of. And the current director of the CIA approved of all of them."

    The ostensible mission of the US military in Iraq, Bolger said, was "completely false" and "based on lies."

    "The stated mission was to find those weapons of mass destruction," she said, noting the disregard in the runup to the war of countervailing evidence indicating there were no such weapons in Iraq.

    It's "absurd to think that more people are going to find something that doesn't exist," she said. Yet, "$1.7 trillion was spent on this mission that was sold to the American public and to the world."

    "That was used as an excuse to go in and impose military force and presence in a part of the world that the United States wants to be regarded as powerful in. In that respect, the United States has gotten what it wanted. We still have a presence in Iraq and probably will forever, but at what cost?" Bolger wondered. 

    "So has the United States learned its lesson? I don't think so," she said, "considering our current military posture around the world."

    She made a point to note, however, that the war was an unpopular one from the beginning. "The American public said they didn't want it, and the 12 million people in the streets around the world said, ‘Don't do it,' but the United States doesn't listen to its citizenry or the world's opinion," she said. "So we launched an illegal, immoral, aggressive war on a country that didn't deserve it."

    Bolger condemned the coverage of the report from the Wall Street Journal and other outlets as being "all about the American point of view."

    "It mentions the more than 4,550 US troops that have been killed in this war, and it mentions how much money the United States has spent, but it doesn't mention, at all, the number of refugees that the Iraq War created, the number of people whom we've killed, the amount of property that was destroyed. The country of Iraq will never be the same," she said. "There are people who are still refugees; by some accounts, there were 6 million refugees from Iraq."

    She said that the losses of US troops and US dollars are "good reasons" to oppose the war, but added, "Let us not ignore the real horror of the situation." Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed since the 2003 invasion.


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    US military, War on Terror, War in Iraq, Iraq War
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