WAR IN IRAQ DIVIDES NATION LIKE VIETNAM

The war in Iraq, which began one year ago, was a rousing success, a stunning victory, the toppling of a brutal dictator and a bull’s-eye blow to terrorism
— or it wasn’t.

Depends on whom you believe.

The war in Iraq was a lie, a misleading embarrassment, a bait and switch of fascism for chaos that leaves a tinderbox nation with more terror than ever — or it wasn’t.

Depends on whom you believe.

The war in Iraq was a response to Sept. 11 — or not.

The war in Iraq had no connection to Sept. 11 — or it did.

The war in Iraq was either President George W. Bush’s biggest fib, based on selective intelligence by a hawkish administration — or a triumph of character, taking the fight to the bad guys.

Depends on whom you believe.

It was either about weapons of mass destruction, or it wasn’t.

It was either about ridding the world of an evildoer, or it wasn’t.

It was either about the future — as in ours — or the past — as in Bush’s daddy.

It was either about showing American might, or showing American arrogance.

It was the best reason to go to war, or the worst.

Depends on whom you believe.

Hussein and his legacy

The war in Iraq is over, it was declared so by a president wearing a bomber jacket and landing on an aircraft carrier — or it isn’t over, it goes on every day, and more troops are dead since that photo op than before it.

The war in Iraq has proved the United States strong and proud, a shining example to nations everywhere — or it has proved us disdainful and impatient, with a snooty attitude to nations we consider inferior.

The war in Iraq was justified because Saddam Hussein is now in custody, a pathetic husk, awaiting his punishment — or it was proved unnecessary, because Hussein was a paper tiger with no threatening weapons.

Depends on whom you believe.

The war in Iraq was fought with a coalition of the willing — or a coalition of the arm-twisted.

It was fought with just enough troops, or not enough troops.

It was fought by a well-supplied army or an undersupplied army, by enthusiastic soldiers or resentful soldiers, by kids who were honored to be there or insulted by low pay and canceled leaves.

Depends on whom you believe.

The war was inevitable — or the war was manufactured.

The war was political — or the war was patriotic.

It was worth it. Or it wasn’t.

Depends on whom you believe.

The future of Iraq

The war in Iraq will bring democracy to the region — or it won’t.

The war in Iraq will lead to civil war once we pull out — or it won’t.

The Iraqis are thrilled that America liberated their country — or they’re not.

The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds will never get along — or they will.

The services in Iraq, from food to water to basic security, are worse now than they were under Hussein — or they aren’t.

The United Nations now has new fear of America’s power — or it has lost respect for us altogether.

Our allies, like Spain and Poland, are betraying us when they talk about removing troops — or we betrayed them first.

Terrorism has been slowed by our victory in Iraq — or, as Spain, Turkey and Indonesia have proved, terrorism is worse than ever.

We should have waited. We couldn’t wait.

It was the best reason to go to war, or the worst.

All that we know for sure, on this one-year anniversary, is that the war in Iraq has divided America like nothing since Vietnam, and the hate we once reserved for terrorists, we are now spewing at each other.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR. To read recent columns by Albom, go to www.freep.com/index/albom.

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