Sunday, 24 March 2013

Iraq warmongers mostly have got away with it

Is there anything more conducive to biped-inspired despair than the review at Year 10 of the Iraq debacle? Not just what happened then, but what is happening now; and not just (or even particularly) what is happening in Iraq, but what we see around us here at home.

It’s bad enough that that war was shepherded into being by vast, cynical lies, cost orders of magnitude more than what was casually promised would be required, and featured staggering levels of incompetence at every stage of its execution. But what is worse is that no one really has been punished for these appalling crimes.

The only mild expressions of regret we hear are sad recollections of how much ‘we’ lost, starting with the pointless deaths of 3,000+ American troops.

What better evidence for the conclusion that the biped species is deeply flawed and racing towards doom? Even the bloodthirsty denizens of Homer’s epic had occasional sympathetic thoughts for the victims of their martial heroes. We seem not even to notice that there are enemies to be slaughtered and foreign states to be left in ruins.

The always masterful Juan Cole reviews the sordid details here; each of his points could be the subject of an extended rant and even indictment. But I found particularly poignant this guest column by an Iraqi resident of the U.S. observing how easily we applaud the men and women in uniform marching through our airports. Are we really so mono-maniacally focused on our own comforts that we fail to appreciate what those uniforms mean for people who never threatened us and yet whose society we completely destroyed?

The 10-year anniversary is really a celebration of unaccountability, from the revolting showcase given to Cheney, to the ongoing career successes of collaborators like Rice, Yoo and the whole neocon cabal. Instead of the crushing discredit that should have kept them out of our political debate and away from power for 50 years, the neocons now join hands with the Israel lobby to pump up demands that we go out and do it all over again, only bigger and stupider, i.e., by making war with Iran.

Day by day, we experience ever greater financial pressures, cutbacks in services and needed government outlays, the breakdowns stemming from mass unemployment steadily worsening. But no one lays the blame for our economic woes at the door of those who decided to spend a trillion dollars on foreign wars and failed attempts to ‘rebuild’ cities in the Iraqi desert while the cities of Oregon and Pennsylvania deteriorated.

Displaying ourselves as dishonest, bumbling, arrogant, ruthless, indifferent to the suffering of non-Americans, and clueless even about our own long-term best interests—that is the legacy of the dumbest war since Vietnam. And yet if we look at the way the Vietnam disaster was digested after it ended 40 years ago, we will not be surprised. Then too, the regrets were mostly limited to the death and destruction of our own golden youth, and even the controversy over the mournful-rather-than-heroic Vietnam War Memorial in Washington never once touched upon the issue of the 2 million Vietnamese human beings that we had put to death for no good reason. Nor is that a topic for today.

Aggressive pursuit of conquest and empire was pretty much discredited by the Nazi-led Holocaust, but now that the world’s largest and most powerful democracy has settled on this course, it’s back in force despite the Iraqi failure. So the deaths of 60 million people in mid-century that set up the world most of us were born into did not teach the two-legged nations all that much. How many will die in the next worldwide slaughter-fest?

On the bright side, Cole concludes that U.S. dominance of the Middle East is evaporating, despite all the attempts to maintain control through compliant and corrupt Arab dictatorships. I hope to live long enough to see this shift play out and enjoy the wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington over no longer being able to control people’s lives halfway around the world. No doubt they will turn their attention onto ours with redoubled energy.

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