Twitter has been on fire today with myriad quips, snarks, I told you sos and above all, honest lamentations on the 10th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. There’s also something else — blowback on the mainstream punditocracy and media sheeplesphere, not so much for getting it all wrong on Iraq — we’ve flogged that one enough over the years. No, it’s a visceral reaction to the offhand way that hacks and so-called “experts” admit to mistakes in judgement without really taking responsibility for their mistakes in judgement. You know, like that old mealymouthed meme, “well, we were wrong, everyone was wrong, we just didn’t know then what we know now,” or my personal favorite, “we in the media weren’t asking the right questions, and we should have asked more.” Anyone who says those things is a Grade A boob, a real fleeb. It at once shakes off any personal responsibility for laziness and lack of professional integrity, while insisting that the entirety of the journalistic world begins in the White House press gallery and ends at the bar at the National Press Club. Welcome to reality, you’re a little late to the party.
This is why I know exactly what Jeremy Scahill, one of the most dogged investigators in the war-reporting business, who had to write a fabulous book about Blackwater, win a few awards and pound out reams of GWOT exposés before he got a mere whiff of attention from media insider claque, was feeling when he tweeted that he had thrown his shoe at the television this morning.
Luke Russert says he is going to do a “deep dive into what we learned” from Iraq. I just threw my shoe at the TV
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) March 19, 2013
Russert is the 27-year-old son of the late Meet the Press legend Tim Russert. Russert now works as a correspondent for NBC and was 17 and attending the prestigious St. Albans School when the Iraq War broke out. I’m sure Scahill’s ire wasn’t fully trained on Russert, but rather for what he symbolized at that moment: the whole of the corporate infotainment craptastrophe, whose only “deep diving” over the last 10 years has invariably involved several celebrity overdoses, marrying monarchs and sordid murder trials we hardly remember anymore.
I like to save my ire for the foreign policy/national security hive dwellers who consistently get asked by the lobotomized mainstream media what they think went wrong with Iraq. We know what went wrong with Iraq, it was the very people who are now being asked to pontificate on it today. If they weren’t being a) honest b) unafraid c) critical d) self-correcting then, what in tarnation do you expect from them now, aside from their so-called Washington credentials, which to me aren’t worth a stick if they couldn’t even be right about the most obvious foreign policy disaster this side of Vietnam.
Today, Foreign Policy online presents to us the most frustrating of all anniversary retrospectives: Washington navel-gazing. It does this by “teaming up” with the Rand Corporation “to bring together many of the key players who launched, fought, analyzed, and executed the (Iraq) war.” Which means, in essence, a lot of dodging, deflecting, elaborate excuse making, a little peevishness, and a lot of minutiae about nothing. What you won’t find in this ponderous, nearly 8,000-word “conversation,” are the words “sectarian,” “torture,” “abuse,” “Abu Ghraib,” “night raids,” “occupation,” “interrogation,” “WMD,” or even “IED,” the most effective weapon against our troops during the war (and for which, by the way, we will be paying billions in veterans’ health care costs for decades to come).
What you also won’t find, aside from sanctioned critic Paul Pillar, are the contrarians, the folks who braved the ridicule and the rebukes to stand against the war policies when it wasn’t so popular to do so. No Andrew Bacevich or Gian Gentile or Patrick Cockburn. Certainly no one from this stalwart arena, nor anyone from The American Conservative, though there are plenty of scholars and great journalists there too, whose prescient writing always seems to get lost during these fatuous ivory tower rituals.
Instead, we get John Nagl, Douglas Feith, Gen. George Allen, Eliot Cohen, Stephen Hadley, Peter Mansoor, Peter Feaver, Kenneth Pollack … need I go on? I won’t bore you with what the establishment had to say, I’ll let you treat yourself. I’ll just say there seems to be a fine line between tedious and infuriating. Largely a giant waste of space. Not even worth throwing a shoe at — though you may want to scream.
Go ahead, we’ve earned it.