Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of a great undertaking – the invasion of Iraq.
Reuters gives the basic facts:
‘The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.
‘The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.
‘When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.’
We have followed the blogs, the editorials, the re-caps, the apologia, the desperate justifications, the criticisms…
‘An unbroken record of waste, futility and shame presents itself to the retrospective view. There was the passage by Congress of the dangerously vague and elastic Authorization for Use of Military Force in place of the congressional declaration of war the Constitution requires. There was the infamous day the shock and awe campaign was unleashed, when a great and ancient city was bombarded as a world that overwhelmingly rejected the attack watched in helpless dismay – a day that burns in memory as one on which a long-premeditated crime occurred in broad daylight.
‘There were the flimsy deceptions and self-deceptions by which the war was rationalized to the American Congress, the American people, the United Nations and the world – the false allegations that Iraq’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction. There was the culpable, willful credulity with which these allegations were accepted by the craven US news media.
‘There was the jingoistic, cheerleading coverage of the ground invasion. There were the Iraqi prisoners led around on leashes like dogs at Abu Ghraib. There were the Iraqi death squads and torture squads allied with and advised by the United States – and, if current reports are right, directly sponsored by the United States. There was the surprising, protracted failure of the occupation to restore even basic services, such as electricity, water and sanitation. Above all, there were those who lost their lives for nothing.’
Writers struggle to find words strong enough. To say that it was a ‘mistake’ hardly does justice to a war that killed more than a hundred thousand people and cost more than WWII. Calling it a ‘calamity’ or a ‘catastrophe’ makes it sound like an accident…or a natural disaster. This was no accident…not even a case of manslaughter; it was pre-meditated murder.
But the journalists, moralists, and geo-political illusionists – each striving to find words to describe what one called America’s biggest blunder ever – keep at it.
Here’s Peter Van Buren:
‘I was there. And there was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness – and oh yes, it was madness – not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington’s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough. I stood at Ground Zero of what was intended to be the new centerpiece for a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.
‘Not to put too fine a point on it, but the invasion of Iraq turned out to be a joke. Not for the Iraqis, of course, and not for American soldiers, and not the ha-ha sort of joke either. And here’s the saddest truth of all… as we mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion from hell, we still don’t get it.
‘In case you want to jump to the punch line, though, it’s this: by invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. And we – and so many others – will pay the price for it for a long, long time.’
Mr Van Buren goes on to tell the story of a chicken processing plant, which was supposed to be an illustration of how the US would help Iraq rebuild. It never processed a single chicken. Still, it was a great success. Every time the press came to call, the actors put on their sanitary outfits, turned on the processing lines… and put on a good show.
The contractors profited. The Pentagon profited. The consultants, experts and hangers on all got paid. So what if it didn’t do the Iraqis any good? So what if the taxpayers spent millions on nothing?
But here at our little diary, we’re not going to waste your time with more complaints and whines. No, we want revenge. Or at least some residue of justice. Some chemical trace of real responsibility. When the Romans built a bridge, the architect would have to stand under it when the scaffolding was removed. If he did his work badly, the bridge fell down and he was killed.
We’d like to see some feet poking out of the rubble of the Iraq War. Is that too much to ask? Rumsfeld. Bush. Cheney. And all the jackasses in Congress who went along with it. Of course. But how about these war criminals too:
They are, from top left to bottom right: Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Scooter Libby, John Bolton, Eliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, Michael Ledeen, William Kristol, Frank Gaffney Jr.
They said our troops would be greeted like liberators. They claimed the war would pay for itself with Iraqi oil. And let’s not forget Thomas L. Friedman. He said an invasion of Iraq would be one of the great revolutionising events of history…and that American GIs weren’t really fighting men, they were ‘nurturing’ a great new democracy.
Surely there is some corner of Hell, dark and hot, reserved for these intellectual miscreants. The sooner they get there the safer we will all be.
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