Friday, March 28, 2008

5 years

With all of the coverage of the five year anniversary of the Iraq War I've considered writing about it but honestly I haven't done it because it seemed to hard for me. I'd write a long, rambling, emotional post that would be surrounded by talk about the NCAA tournament. It just seemed not quite right but for some reason I'm writing it now.

I still remember where I was when the war began. It was Spring Break and I was in Chicago. I remember the giant war protest that shut down Lake Shore Drive. I remember the sports people wondering if the war would preempt the NCAA tourney. I remember when the war began with massive explosions over Baghdad, in an attempt to kill Saddam. I remember listening to Bush on the radio and a car full of people talking about how full of shit he was. I remember for the second time in my life watching the nightvision images of tracer fire and missiles over Iraq as breathless commentators created the new buzzwords of this war. "Shock and Awe", "imbedded coverage", "search for the weapons of mass destruction." Mostly I remember spending most of my time trying not to think about and doing other, fun things like partying on St. Patrick's Day, watching basketball, seeing the sights of the city.

Really, this war has barely touched my life at all. My cousin's husband spent two tours manning a 50 caliber machine gun on the top of a Humvee and might be going back but I've never even met the guy. A friend's brother was there but I barely know him either. This war hasn't truly intruded on my life like it has for many but for the last five years it's been a constant part of the background noise. I can think about sitting at People's in Ames looking at the somewhat small group of loyal protesters. I agreed with them wholeheartedly and would honk if I drove by but that small protest seemed so powerless in the face of the sneering opposition thousands of miles away with names like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice. I can still picture the one man who would stand at the corner of Welch and Lincolnway holding a sign with the number of dead soldiers on it. I lived my life as it went higher and higher. I was there when some drunk frat kid yelled something like "Yeah! 948!" I don't know if it's better or worse if he didn't really know what the sign meant. Now that sign would be at least 4004.

The New York Times published photos, names, and hometowns of the last 1000 soldiers to die there along with correspondence from some of them to their families and friends. It was incredibly sad as usual. I looked through the 4 full pages of photos looking for towns I know. It's hard to believe but some of those guys were probably 8th or 9th graders when this war started. Back when Iraq was an "imminent threat" and our Vice President spoke of mushroom clouds and secret meetings with al Qaeda. Before the goal was "bringing democracy to the middle east" or whatever the current rational is. Probably just to avoid leaving a giant clusterfuck instead of just a mild one.

I've really been struggling with what to do. I worry that if America leaves Iraq it will end up even worse than it is now. At the same time I wonder how much of a stabilizing presence the US is and how much more we can take. The troop "surge" is now credited by many for establishing peace in the region when the truth is al Sadr called off his militia and we started hiring the same thugs that were doing all of the killing a few short months ago. Oh, and not to mention that Iraq is now almost entirely a segregated country and there's not as much opportunity for some good old fashioned sectarian violence. Basically we're damned either way. Bush is going to run out the clock and hand this giant flaming turd with a ticking time bomb stuck in the middle over to the next president. McCain wants to keep us there for another hundred years. The Democrats claim to want us out but I don't really believe them on that either. If they do bring American soldiers home the spin will be that they lost the war just when we almost had it won, right?

The complicit media is now asking how this could have happened? They go to the same old tired hacks. Assholes like Bill Kristol say "the idea was good but the execution was bad." Democrat enablers say "we didn't know what we were getting into." Well, a lot of us knew exactly what we were getting into and that Iraq wasn't a real threat. Yeah, I'm just some asshole on his computer but there were actual weapons inspectors and foreign policy experts on both side warning you about this. Of course I never see any of them on TV because it's so much easier to pretend that all of us were duped.

There have been several quotes from those in the Bush administration that start something like, "No one could have predicted..." followed by something that would seem obvious to anyone with half a brain, like "that the Iraqi people might start to resent our presence?" Well, actually a lot of people could have predicted that but you marginalized and ignored them while you brought in the same circle of hacks you've always had.

Condi Rice continued this tradition by saying this:
"I thought it would be tough, but I didn't think it would be this tough." She added, "It's a society that's only now beginning to emerge."

Who could have guessed it would be this tough? Certainly not a National Security Adviser, right?

And then, "a society that's only now beginning to emerge"? You mean Iraq? The so-called "Cradle of Civilization"? The place that gave us agriculture, writing, algebra, government, just about fucking everything? Yes, it's great that we can give these people a society. Of course much of the archaeological record was destroyed when we failed to prevent the looting but that's beside the point.

Ridiculous. The arrogance, incompetence, and ignorance on display with this crew never ceases to amaze me. I still think about how the man sent over to Iraq to set up their stock market after the war had no financial training whatsoever but he did have the right family connections to get some job he thought would look great on a resume.

Anyway, I've barely scratched the surface of my outrage on this subject which itself only scratches the surface of my outrage over the Bush administration in general. We've lived through dark times. I truly hope that someday I will be able to look back and say it was bad but it's over now. I hope we can somehow repair the damage that can be repaired. For many it's too late but perhaps we can prevent a similar retrospective in 5 more years.

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