Is the US still at war in Iraq? In these days when the US is engaged in so many military actions around the globe that have not been formally declared, it is hard to be definitive. President Obama, as always trying to have it both ways, helped to cloud the issue by declaring that US troops would be withdrawn while still keeping some there and intensifying drone and other bombings. But on the 15th anniversary of the day when the Bush-Cheney gang of war criminals unleashed hell on the people of Iraq, with the US bombings continuing, all the signs point to the answer being yes, and will remain so for some time.
Matt Taibbi provides a must-read piece, a reminder of how the country was stampeded into war by the Bush-Cheney administration, gleefully aided by pretty much most of the mainstream US media that had built up the suspense about the inevitable war and exulted in letting its headline writers loose in large fonts.
The New York Times said it all with its dramatic banner:
“BUSH ORDERS START OF WAR ON IRAQ; MISSILES APPARENTLY MISS HUSSEIN”
GOON BOMBS CITY ON HORSESHIT PRETEXT would have been more accurate, but editors were giving everyone the benefit of the doubt back then, and getting on board, for patriotic reasons. The Gray Lady, who was playing such a key role in what was going on, was certainly getting in the spirit, giving in to the adrenaline rush of Bush’s evil gambit.
It was the same with CNN’s breathless coverage of that first night, with the creepy green-hued night-cams showing explosion after monster explosion.
Shock and awe, we called it: a new plan for “achieving rapid dominance.” What a great Hollywood name, and goddamn if people didn’t sit glued to their TVs to watch its rollout, getting off like a bunch of kids blowing up frogs.
Wars are great TV. The prolonged political lead-up, the decision to kill, it’s all rich with suspense, and when wedded to the sight and the sound of the bombs, after waiting all those months for one nightfall, at the hour of crime and sex, to launch the first sorties from a secret location at sea – it all trips the senses. It’s a turn on. It makes the Super Bowl look like paint drying. The sheer drama is how they sold this thing to the public, fifteen years ago this week.
The Iraq invasion was always a cold-blooded, calculated, step in the process of letting the world know that the US could and would assert US its will anywhere at any time.
The Iraq invasion, one of the great crimes of this or any age and destined to be a crossroads event in the history of America’s decline, was instead a cold, calculated, opportunistic power grab, aimed as much at future targets, and even our own population, as at the Iraqi “enemy.”
And please, let’s not have any excuses from the warmongers and their enablers among the Democrats and liberals who claimed that that they were ‘misled’ by the Bush-Cheney gang or that they ‘miscalculated’ the difficulty of the war or that they over-estimated the abilities of those carrying out the war and subsequent occupation.
We remember things that look on the outside like dumb miscalculations. First in line is the press corps that somehow all at once committed mass malpractice, falling for a plainly absurd WMD fable.
The Democrats will tell you they were genuinely convinced voting for the war was politically necessary, and/or that they really believed the intelligence about Saddam’s weapons programs.
Bullshit. The invasion was no mistake, and nobody above the age of eight believed the WMD story. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. We all knew what was going on.
Far from being an error, the war was a perfect expression of everything we stood for then, and still stand for now. And the survival of the comedy-of-errors explanation as popular media myth is almost as inexcusable as the original tidal wave of misreporting that preceded the invasion.
Taibbi says that the US has a long and ugly history of manufacturing reasons to attack countries (remember the ‘domino theory’?) but that the attacks of 9/11 was used to both permanently scare the hell out of everyone and also provide the government with an amorphous, undefined transnational adversary that could be used as an excuse for military action anywhere while practicing torture, warrantless surveillance, elimination of habeas corpus, and other civil liberties at home.
Donald Trump is not an outlier, as many people like to claim, but is the natural part of the political evolution in the US, someone who perfectly represents what the nation has become.
It was for sure a contributing factor in the election of Donald Trump, whose total ignorance and disrespect for both the law and the rights of people deviates not one iota from our official policies as they’ve evolved in the last fifteen years.
Trump is just too stupid to use the antiseptic terminology we once thought we had to cook up to cloak our barbarism. He says “torture” instead of “enhanced interrogation” because he can’t remember what the difference is supposed to be. Which is understandable. Fifteen years is a long time for a rotting brain to keep up a pretense.
We flatter ourselves that Trump is an aberration. He isn’t. He’s a depraved, cowardly, above-the-law bully, just like the country we’ve allowed ourselves to become in the last fifteen years.
That we now deserve him as president is a consequence of the final lesson of the Iraq debacle: We lost that war. Not militarily maybe, but in the sense that we so completely dismantled what was left of our civil society in prosecution of it that, looking back, a battlefield loss would surely have been preferable.
Wherever he is now, as eels perhaps slither through his eye-holes, Osama bin Laden has to be laughing. He had to know all along that only Americans were capable of destroying America. But he couldn’t have dreamed we’d do it so fast.
The US is now in a state of permanent war in many parts of the globe. It has become like white noise for most people, something that surrounds them but they do not notice. But no nation, however rich and powerful, can be at war forever. It is only when the inevitable collapse occurs from within that people will suddenly realize what they have allowed to happen.