Friday, December 16, 2011

Mission Accomplished 3

So, the war in Iraq has ended.


In all honesty, the "news" that Pres. Obama has withdrawn all but a few thousand garrison troops from Iraq, being touted as the "end of the Iraq War" has been met with chirping crickets. Not because the war hasn't mattered. Not because Americans don't care about the troops. Not because we are an ignorant, lazy rabble. We've been down this road before. Who can forget this?

Then there was the announcement by Pres. Obama that a large number of troops were being brought home.

Two years ago.

I'm sorry, but this "ending" is not only redundant, it seems . . . anti-climactic. For one thing, there are many people in the United States who refuse to admit they were lied to. From Pres. George W. Bush through most folks in his Administration responsible. Remember Condi's warning about "mushroom clouds"? Who can forget Colin Powell disgracing himself and the United States before the entire world at the United Nations? Then, there was Donald Rumsfeld, insisting at a press conference that the US knew where those pesky WMDs were - north, south, east, and west of Baghdad! - which was a marvelous way of implying they were both everywhere and nowhere. That there were actually none, zero, zip, zilch, that this was known since 1998, and publicized pretty widely . . . well who would dare call the entire foreign policy establishment of an American Administration a bunch of liars?

Well, anyone paying attention, for one thing.

A whole lot of people, tens and perhaps even hundreds of thousands, are dead. More displaced; the exodus of Iraq's small but historically significant Christian community is almost completely unremarked upon. The destruction of the physical infrastructure has yet to be repaired.

The physical, mental, and moral toll upon the American military won't be paid until we admit, first of all, that such exist. Considering the way the previous Administration treated wounded vets, we have years of catching up to do. Considering it seems nearly impossible to talk about the corrosive effects dehumanizing our enemies has had on some folks in the military, how is it possible to address, for example, the more than occasional reports of our troops simply murdering civilians? I think a whole lot of thanks needs to go to military legal teams who investigate and prosecute these crimes when they occur; yet, like so much else surrounding this whole episode, we just don't talk about it all that much.

Since before the whole thing began, we haven't really talked about it. We didn't discuss whether or not we should invade Iraq. We were told we had to. Then, we were told we were going to. Then, we were told we had to stay. And stay. And stay. The reasons kept changing, the rationale always shifting. At the end of the day, erasing all the lies and 9/11 bloody shirt waving, there seemed no good reason. A whole lot of people are dead, a country lies in physical, social, and political ruin, and our troops are coming back home amid an uneasy silence because no one, either those in charge, those who fought, or we who have had to watch have wrestled with the reality that the whole thing has been a horrendous crime. Those in charge will never face legal sanction. Our troops, who have done their jobs to the best of their abilities, by and large, aren't coming home to ticker-tape parades and long speeches.

The whole thing has stunk, and the dearth of serious discussion leaves me feeling that nothing good has come of these past 8 years. It was all preventable. It is just . . . sad.

Virtual Tin Cup

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