was a glorious victory, proclaimed
by none other than our conquering commander-in-chief as he
zoomed onto the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln: we had "prevailed"
in the war against Iraq, and the pro-war pundits, drunk with
bloodlust, were delirious
They had been proven right! Now, it would only be a matter
of time before the grateful Iraqis, hailing their "liberation,"
abandoned their old-fashioned fetish for independence, and
gave up Islam for Ikea.
Except it didn't turn out that way, now did it….?
not by a long shot. The
news from Iraq, if anybody is still paying attention,
is that low-level attacks on U.S. forces are on the rise:
war was supposed to be over. But the deaths of four U.S. soldiers
and the wounding of 15 others in just two days in armed attacks
across Iraq raise the troubling prospect that a fresh wave
of violent resistance to U.S. occupation is beginning."
firefight in Fallouja, in which two Americans were killed
and nine wounded, was explained by one resident who gave his
name as Abbu Abbas:
are not wanted here. No one wanted them to come here.' … Waving
a piece of metal that he said was from the damaged helicopter,
he said: 'This is our pride. Everybody says that the American
military is invincible. This is the proof that it is not.
We are shooting them with our own guns.'"
soldiers patrol a devastated landscape of blasted buildings
and mean streets, where shots ring out day and night in a
cacophony of chaos:
think they're testing us,' said [Lt. Chris] Labra, whose unit
took over duties from members of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division
this week. 'Everyone knows we're new on the job.'"
are new at this game of Empire, but they are about to be baptized
in blood and fire.
he roams the streets of Fallouja, Lt. Labra's answer to the
many complaints is "Every day it'll get better."
Or maybe not. As the Los Angeles Times reports:
back at the airstrip, he gives Capt. Aaron Francis a frank
debriefing. 'People will shoot, and it's like 200 meters away,'
Labra said. 'On two occasions I said, 'Who was that?' and
people said, 'I will not tell you because this is my neighbor.'"
are we doing in their neighborhood? The original rationale
for war was Saddam's fabled "weapons of mass destruction."
But the administration is even now rationalizing the absence
of that particular rationalization, speculating that the
Iraqis destroyed their WMD before the invasion. Which
means that Saddam was going along with the disarmament process,
but we invaded anyway….
but, never mind, because we're supposed to believe that getting
rid of a tyrant like Saddam is an end in itself, and fully
justifies the war. That this is said even as the U.S. postpones
Iraqi self-rule indefinitely just goes to show how hubris
distorts the mental processes and blinds us to intimations
L.A. Times story, headlined "After
the War: Riot Chases Troops Out of Iraqi Town," pretty
much summarizes the problem and the implied solution. We need
to get out of Iraq before we're run out.
days of unrest in the western Iraqi town of Hit climaxed when
town residents, enraged by house-to-house searches, attacked
the police headquarters, took over the streets, and effectively
ended the U.S. occupation. Arriving near dawn, American troops
had set up a checkpoint, and commenced searching homes in
the company of local cops – the same Ba'athist thugs the Iraqis
had supposedly just been "liberated" from. A peaceful
protest failed to deter the Americans, and around noon, on
Wednesday, a second protest quickly turned into a full-scale
revolt. The Americans and their police accomplices quickly
that's real "liberation"!
lightly-armed Iraqis, whose chief weapon is their righteous
anger, have no chance against the Americans militarily: So
why did they do it? Here's what Esmaul Tabee, a construction
worker, had to say:
forced women and children to leave their houses. They violated
the dignity and honor of our women. We won't accept this violation.
The people will do more of this if the Americans come in here
again,' he added, shaking his fist as those around him shouted
approval. 'They showed no respect for our way of life.'"
as elemental as protecting their women and their children.
As simple as the concepts of dignity and honor. As central
to the human persona as personal pride. No wonder the bureaucrats
in the Pentagon and their neoconservative
amen corner don't get it: it's too simple, too human,
too beneath their notice. Yet they overlook the human factor
– the stubborn bravery of simple souls like Esmaul Tabee –
at their peril, for in the end it will be their undoing.
vision of celebrating Iraqis lining the streets and cheering
their American "liberators" proved to be the briefest
of hallucinations, dispelled as quickly as it was conjured
by our militarized media. If public opinion in Iraq has long
since turned against the occupation, in this country the tide
is also turning….
Angeles Times columnist Norah Vincent, a
senior fellow at the Foundation
for the Defense of Democracies, is the
latest war bird to change her tune. "The Iraqi people
need and want our help," the poor woman's Camille Paglia
last November. "Can the left, in good conscience, be
deaf to their cause?" Now that the people who supposedly
needed our help are taking pot shots at us in occupied Iraq,
perhaps Ms. Vincent wonders if she was hearing voices, because
she has turned on a dime:
will and should say thank you a million times over to our
veterans, as well as to those now serving overseas. But in
light of recent disasters like the one currently devolving
in Iraq a country that, all the experts agree, is teetering
on the brink either of all-out anarchy or civil war instead
of just expressing the usual perfunctory gratitude, maybe
we should also be saying we're sorry. It seems the least we
it's the least her fellow neocons could do, not that any of
them have the integrity or the stomach for honest self-criticism.
are far too busy pushing us into war with Iran. But a
lot of honest Republicans, many of them movement conservatives,
who supported the war, are beginning to ask: what have we
Devine, of the American Conservative Union – who supported
the Iraq war as "necessary" – not only disdains
Frum's denunciation of antiwar conservatives in which
"the only good guys remaining on the right were neo-conservatives" but
also raises the question of "global empire" as "an
important issue for conservatism." Devine, a former Reagan
administration official and a longtime conservative activist,
gives voice to the worst fears of many on the right:
the U.S. government has the ability to bring peace and democracy
to the world, big government can obviously also run America's
economy and plan its social life – and limited government
becomes irrelevant. … Government keeps growing and journalistic
conservatism is silent at this growth, especially fueled by
dreams of empire."
trend continues in the field of music: Neil
Young, sixties icon turned Reaganite, strikes
a similar note of reconsideration, if not outright recantation.
Young is the author of "Let's Roll!", the tremendously
of the post-9/11 era, that celebrated the heroism of Tod
Beamer and the other passengers who fought the hijackers of
United Flight 93:
know I said I love you/I know you know it's true/I've got
to put the phone down/And do what we've got to do/One standing
in the aisle way/Two more at the door/We've got to get inside
there/Before they kill some more/Time is running out/Let's
War Party appropriated
Young's song and "Let's Roll!" became
their slogan, but now Young tells the British Guardian
that "The US is like a baby with a bomb," and wonders
aloud at the direction the post-9/11 world is going:
think the world today, at least the U.S. and to some extent
Britain now, is experiencing this kind of Big Brother thing.
It's not what we thought we were gonna be doing, a lot of
the people's civil rights have been compromised, and we don't
know what's going on. If I keep speaking my mind, will I be
it seems like only yesterday that the singer-songwriter-rock
legend was telling
People for the American Way, on the occasion of receiving
their 2001 "Spirit of Liberty Award" at a Beverly
Hills banquet, that the USA/Patriot Act was all
for a good cause: "To protect our freedoms,"
Young said, "it seems we're going to have to relinquish
some of our freedoms for a short period of time."
gotten his wish, Young now regrets it – without ever acknowledging
either the change in his views or his own responsibility for
this sad state of affairs.
Vincent also bails out of acknowledging her error. In her
passionate apologia to the troops, she notes that the banner
over the President's head on board that aircraft carrier "read
'Mission Accomplished,' but you knew better, didn't you? His
mission was accomplished, sure. He'd had his slick victory
and come out clean, even if you were left stuck in the mud
or is 'quagmire' at long last le mot juste?"
the author of this piece not only fulsomely
supported the Iraq war, she disdained
its opponents as clueless "peaceniks," and hailed
pro-war lefties such as Christopher Hitchens, Paul Berman,
Andrew Sullivan (and, implicitly, herself) as "spearheading
a long-awaited rebirth of the intellectual left." Back
it was fashionable to celebrate the near omnipotence of
she dripped disdain for the "q"-word:
'quagmire'-obsessed journalists fretted about another Vietnam
disaster, we dismantled the enemy in Afghanistan in no time,
and with only a handful of American casualties. Though superior
technology and perfected air-power strategies are undoubtedly
responsible for our swift victory, we should not underestimate
the power of home-front resolve."
Vincent's resolve was apparently one of the first to crumble.
The chaos unleashed by our policies – and predicted
by the antiwar opposition – has the more squeamish wing of
the War Party squirming franticly to distance themselves from
the consequences of their own misguided ideas. Now that the
nay-sayers she insulted have been proved right, is it too
much to expect a mea culpa or two from the likes of this Amazon
and her fellow militants?
our "victory" comes unraveled, so does the War Party.
It's a bittersweet prospect – more bitter than sweet – but,
in the post-9/11 world, we must take our mean little pleasures
as we find them.
IN THE MARGIN
Abe's by-now-famous photographs of J.C. Penney’s gross
war toy, "Forward Command Post," which appeared
first on Antiwar.com, have been reprinted in Tank,
the glossy British fashion/art magazine. At your local news
stand. Check it out, but bring your checkbook: this magazine
costs 30 bucks a hit!
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