It is stunning that at the end of the U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, there was almost an attitude of avoidance about anything involving the war when it ended. Well, there was one exception and that was Up w/Chris Hayes last Saturday morning and they really did cover all the issues. I guess what is so amazing is how we seem to have forgotten how we were glued to the TV for “shock and awe”, the capture of Saddam, the failure to find WMD, Mission Accomplished”, the civil war, the Sunni awakening, the surge, Abu Grahb, the dragging of our dead and burned troops through the street, the gunning down of innocents by Blackwater, and on and on. So why this strange non-reaction when it was over. I think because in the end, we were embarrassed by what we did and what we lost.
No, I am not talking about the troops who showed America for the most part what real dedication to country and duty means, not to mention sacrifice. I am talking about how we tricked ourselves into justifying the war; how we lost our way and with it the Geneva Conventions; how we refused to pay for the war and actually cut taxes; how we forced the military to share the whole burden of the war with no draft; through tactics that brutalized the people; how we trashed our own Constitution with the Patriot Act and Gitmo; how we lost the moral high ground with our treatment of prisoners; and the mess we made of their country and government. We got it wrong every step of the way, but we are number 1.
It actually gets worse as our troops come home to no jobs and we do little to see that we really are thankful for their service in terms of any sacrifice (like taxes) to make sure they get the services they will need. Meanwhile the Republicans are busy trying to cut programs that will help them. In fact, saying thank you may just be a self serving way of not really doing anything that might really cost us anything to show our real gratitude. We should have had a draft and then this war would not have happened, but since we weren’t asked to pay for it, and we certainly weren’t asked to serve in it, we can just forget it seems to be the attitude. And most important of all, we left a government that will fail because it was a government of our making, not the Iraqis. In fact, we never understood the real issues there which destined out incursion to failure.
I am not being original here. Several on Chris’ panel pointed out that we established a government after our own idea of what would work and it is in the process, now with us gone, of coming apart. Our idea was a coalition of the various sects and forces, and told them to learn how to compromise. But since their underlying problems of religious and tribal rivalries have not been resolved, they are now going to work themselves out probably in a brutal fashion. Remember that Iraq was an artificial country created by the League of Nations in 1920. One Iraqi interviewed basically said there must be a winner, not a compromise.
Sound familiar? It should since President Obama thought he could be the great accommodater, never understanding that the Republicans were not interested in compromise in any form and our differences are not resolved in the middle ground. Accommodation has not worked out well has it? But back to Iraq. These kinds of basic differences cannot be resolved through forced compromises unless we are willing to stay there for a long, long time as the enforcer. As the Iraqi explained on Chris’s show and we must learn here at home to move forward, someone must win and establish order. We never understood that when we removed Saddam, who was the force that held everything together, albeit an evil one, all the unresolved problems were unleashed. As long as we were there we could hold it together for them in our ideal of a government, but that restraint has now been removed. It is now and always was their problem to resolve. What may result will probably not look like anything we envisioned or a government with the freedoms we would approve. But it will be Iraqi which might just work for them.
So we look the other way and pretend it was just a bad dream. It wasn’t. It was a nightmare and as we shovel it under the rug and look away as it degenerates into civil war, breaks into several countries, or some form of dictatorial government, we also ignore the lessons we should learn from this misadventure. But in the world where we hold no one accountable, the 99% have it exactly right, the rules are different for the 1%. For those who broke laws, lied to us, and led us into this disaster, well, they are doing just fine. Chris Hayes gave us this little summary video below of where they are today, while we just look the other way and try to forget the whole thing. I keep asking the same question, aren’t we better than than? Apparently not anymore: