The strange coincidence of these events begs the question: What have we gained and what have we lost in this war of choice? Was the loss of life, treasure and our international reputation worth the purported—although not officially acknowledged—strategic gains  of invading Iraq?
I won’t waste pixels here dignifying the WMD rationale for war—which by now has been widely dismissed and which the cowardly members of Congress who voted for war would have known was a ruse  if they’d bothered to pay attention and risk looking "unpatriotic."
About that whole Iraq-is-a-front-in-the-war-on-terror argument, where to start? If actual incidents of terrorist acts are any guide for how this so-called war on terror is progressing, then the Bush administration can’t claim success. Its own State Department reports a record number of terrorist attacks in 2004  —three times the count for 2003.
Which brings us to spreading freedom and liberty. The tyrant who today celebrates his 68th birthday has indeed been toppled. But I—like other opponents of the war—will continue to ask: Was war the best way to get rid of Hussein and promote Iraqis’ desires for freedom and self-determination? Conservative bloggers and talk show hosts will no doubt get a lot of mileage from the fact that liberals are talking more today about the stain of Abu Ghraib than they are about the nonviolent assumption of power by Iraq’s transitional government. For more eloquent arguments on why Abu Ghraib deserves our attention, alarm and more investigation, see Human Rights Watch’s Reed Brody or Operation Truth’s Perry Jefferies published today on TomPaine.com . And Seymour Hersh's original article here  .
Serious concerns about the perceived legitimacy of Iraq's transitional government threaten stability  there. As experts like Helena Cobban at JustWorldNews point out, the United States may be squandering the gift given by ordinary Iraqis when they showed up to vote in the January elections. She and others sound the alarm that the United States continues to throw up obstacles  to a representative government:
An empowered, elected Iraqi government would chart its own course in pursuing questions of internal politics. Certainly, it would not have to listen to fatwas such as that issued by Donald Rumsfeld when, during his recent visit, he explicitly "told" the Iraqis what they could and couldn't do with regard to former Baathists.
An empowered, elected Iraqi government would have full control over national resources and national revenues.
An empowered, elected Iraqi government would chart its own course with regard to national security. That course would most likely involve reaching agreements with the country's neighbors, as well as with those portions of the occupying forces still remaining (or not) inside the country.
An empowered, elected Iraqi government could make its own appeals to whatever portions of the international community it should choose to, for help in attaining any of its national tasks. It would certainly not feel beholden to any diktats coming out of Washington.
So, pardon us, Rush Limbaugh and Joe Scarborough  , if many Americans are not celebrating our victories in Iraq today. But ignoring the crimes that happened in the past at Abu Ghraib—and may be happening in the present at Guantánamo and elsewhere—will only bring our nation shame.