Does this mean that the war is over?

There were scenes of jubilation in Baghdad today, as it became apparent that Saddam Hussein's regime would no longer resist the US military in any organized fashion. Watching Iraqis topple statues of Hussein and loot government buildings, I couldn't help but feel happy for them, and hopeful that their future might be brighter than their past. But I'm disappointed that the United States has sunk to such brutish, callow behavior that it could invade a nation which didn't pose a direct or immediate threat, and do so without the support and approval of the United Nations or the Western Alliance, or the disapproval of the American people.

I doubt that many of my fellow Americans are displeased or unsatisfied with how this war has turned out, despite any initial misgivings they may have had about conducting it without the support of our allies or the United Nations. Will these feelings change as we discover that the pretense we were given for this war - the existence of weapons of mass destruction - was nothing more than a ruse, a supposition, mere wishful thinking, a confidence game? No, it won't matter to most Americans. Saddam is gone - good riddance.

Whether Hussein is dead or alive now is the question on everyone's lips, but it doesn't matter - he's already gone the way of Elvis. If he is still alive, we'll never see him again, and if he's dead, his image will haunt us for decades, even centuries.

So if Hussein isn't dead, who is to say exactly when this war is over? When it started in the days following September 11, 2001, the war was against terrorism and al-Qaeda. As we approached last year's mid-term elections, we shifted our attention to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Who will we pre-emptively attack in time for the 2004 presidential election? Syria? Iran? North Korea? More Americans who are suspected of being "lone-wolf" terorists?

We still don't know how much this war has cost us. "Liberating" a country isn't cheap - $75 billion just for the first month. (There is some interesting math to consider: $75 billion to bring down a regime and $1-2 billion to rebuild it. I always thought that demolition was less expensive than reconstruction.) I'm certain that this war will translate into record profits for the military industrial complex, and we can't say that someone like General Dwight D. Eisenhower didn't warn us of the dangers of money, politics and military contractors.

There are also the costs to our freedom and civil liberties to be reckoned with. As Ed points out in the post below, many Republicans seem not to care at all about 30 percent of the Bill of Rights.

I'm continually impressed by how effectively the right-wing propagandists have gotten out their messages. To some extent peace activists were able to convince Americans that this war was about oil, nothing more. While there has always been more to it than that, there is some truth in this argument. Now the hawks are saying that this war was never about oil. How could it be? A report on CNN claims that there isn't enough oil in Iraq to make this a profitable war for the US, and Iraq is sidled with huge debts. I'm glad they straightened that out for those naive peace activists.

I'm also impressed by how quickly the spin doctors have spun their message about the billion-dollar government contracts secretly awarded to Cheney's Halliburton, without competition. Their claim is that expediency was paramount, that a competitive bidding process would have taken too long; although competitive bidding might save the government some money, it would also lead to inefficient legislative oversight.

I suppose the same can be said for democracy - it may be good for the people, but its a hindrance to an administration that is only interested in getting its way and making its friends richer.