I don’t know.
It started with this article by Howard Fineman, which I read last week during the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Initially I’d been surprised we’d reached ten years… perhaps because I barely remember a time when America wasn’t involved with this mess (which in many ways is not a false impression; the war in Iraq, as an extension of America’s involvement in the Middle East and its cold war policies, has really been going on throughout the 20th century at different intervals in different forms). What emerged once I accepted that we’d hit a decade was a sense of disgust at the meagre sentiments being offered by the journalists, politicians, and other mouth pieces who duly marched lock-step with the Bush administration towards the war in the brass ringing days of aut-three.
These half-assed acts of contrition being offered by the chastened cowards and cuckolded lovers collective (now that concensus has been reached– and the assertion very much in vogue– that the war was “a mistake”) can be summarized by Fineman’s closing platitudes:
“As for me, I could say that I was covering politics, not war, and that it wasn’t my job to try to pierce the veil of lies and “precog” justifications of the Bush-Cheney-neocon axis.
But the war was politics. It was a new battle for the president to be seen fighting as he headed toward a reelection run. I should have known more, studied more, asked more questions and been more skeptical.
I hope I am wiser now. I hope we all are.”
You “hope” you are wiser now.
At forty I guess I have lived just long enough to see it all.
You. Hope. You are wiser now.
How about I AM wiser now? Do you at least not owe the nation you help sucker that small reassurance?
How about this? How about… I was wise enough at the time?
Because that’s the rub, Fineman. You were. We all were. It wasn’t hard to call Bush and co. on their lies; so brazen were they about the power they held and the lack of resistance they faced, they couldn’t even commit to their bullshit after long. Many accredited people of conscience DID call them on their lies all the same, at great risk to their own standing. And while you knew you were being sold you yet another bill of goods by the toads at the top (I believe only a tiny minority of the most dim-witted segment of America believed otherwise) and you knew you were on the food chain, and you knew you were rolling over, and you knew by your silence you were complicit in this act of war, you couldn’t even quietly turn and slink into your shame. You turned on the people with the guts to oppose what was happening.
Of course, once the war began to stink and Arlington Cemetery started welcoming its new residents, the scorn from your ilk and the bumper sticker crowd for those who had opposed the intent of the occupation, not the result, was put on simmer.
Then a deeper silence set in. Indifference. And amnesia.
Apparently it now takes a ten year anniversary to wake folks up to this odious bit of “history” (and hey, who doesn’t like a birthday?). But ten years later, there is no grim satisfaction in anyone who fought against the invasion of Iraq being able to say “Told you so”. Ten years later the limbs have not grown back. The graves have not spit up their dead here on Easter Sunday. The blind children’s eyes aren’t regenerating with the renewal of Spring. The chance for re-birth since “liberation” is suplanted by an epidemic of birth defects and infant mortality. The violence, instability, and fear continue. Life is one of desperation in Iraq. The majority of the US forces may be gone (and there’s evidence to suggest they’re slowly working their way back in), but their presence is still very much felt.
In your country, those same soldiers who made it back in one piece find themselves without a leg to stand on in the current economy. Suicides among veterans are at an all time high. America’s commitment to the “long war” continues in Afghanistan, Syria, and in this nebulous “war on terror”. The military is still a toxic hotbed of corruption and abuse. The desperate still join and no one really escapes. My friend and resister Rodney Watson Jr. is still in refuge in a church in the downtown eastside after three and a half years thanks to Kenney and Harper’s overtures to Obama’s blood stained administration. In that time Bush has been invited to town as a dignitary for a leisurely cruise on Jimmy Pattison’s yacht. Rodney’s son is running now.
And speaking of sons… has it occurred to anyone that the children who saw their fathers being dragged off to degradation and humiliation in Abu Graib are now just old enough to exact revenge?
Ten years on, were mistakes made? Did you err? No. Knocking over a jar of Alstertor Dusseldorf Premium Mustard could be considered a mistake (tho still a sin). Those messes can be quickly mopped, and there’s never any question of INTENT. Like Vietnam, it is now a matter of historical record that the facts were in with the Washington crowd before there was a committal to war and the press corps need only report what it had seen before and was seeing again. No one has an excuse.
So my question to you at last Mr. Fineman… and the rest…. is not if you can lay your head down with a sense of contentment now that you’ve offered cursory acknowledgments of your great failings.
It’s what are you going to DO?
Because something’s still happening here, Mr. Jones. And you’ve always known what it is.
For those who find this petulant, strident, or self-evident, a better written piece on this matter with actual information was posted by Chris Hedges this week. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_treason_of_the_intellectuals_20130331/
Anyone looking for true insight into the long term effects of war can find such in this moving piece by Ron Kovic, Vietnam veteran and author of Born on the Fourth of July: http://www.truthdig.com/dig/item/forgotten_wounded_20060117/
Likewise, everyone should read this last letter by an Iraq veteran: http://www.truthdig.com/dig/item/the_last_letter_20130318/
If you’ve already read it, read it again.
Thanks to Truthdig for all of these.
See Tom Hayden for more on the concept of America’s “Long War”: http://tomhayden.com/home/the-long-war-quagmire.html
Follow Rodney’s story and writings at: http://rodneywatson.wordpress.com/
Coffin photos courtesy AP news services.
Finally, here’s the comic strip.
Drawn, once again, on Luke Krienke’s Comicblanks.