By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Ten years after it began, the second Iraq
warinvasion, which we at the NYT promoted at the time by amplifying easily debunkable propaganda, still haunts the United States, poor us, in the nearly 4,500 troops who died there; the more than 30,000 American wounded who have come home; the more than $2 trillion spent on combat operations and reconstruction, which inflated the deficit; and in the lessons learned about the limits of American leadership and power, specifically, that entities outside the category "American leaders," such as normal people being brutalized by American depleted uranium, bullets, etc. are very hard to save. In fact, sometimes we think they don't want to be saved. But goddamnit, we try, all the time! Nothing is our fault, ever! Nothing!
It haunts Iraq too, you know, in, like, a secondary way, after it haunts us that we tried but failed to save their sorry, self-destructive asses with terrorism, where the total number of casualties is believed to have surpassed 100,000 but has never been officially determined because we don't give a shit and, also, don't want anyone to know!; and where one strongman was traded for another, as was the plan all along, albeit under a
more pluralisticsystem more amenable to U.S. interests, with a democratic veneer, which, what?, did we just admit it's a facade? The country is increasingly influenced by Iran, which is evil, wink, wink, because they're always invading countries on false pretenses, or...whatever and buffeted by the regional turmoil caused by the Arab SpringU.S. policy of destabilizing uncooperative regimes.
In 2003, President George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and the media, with the NYT leading the way, used the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to wage
pre post? -emptiveaggressive war against Saddam Husseinthe Iraqi people and a nuclear arsenal that did not exist. TheyWe promised a “free and peaceful Iraq” that would be a model of democracy and stability in the Arab world. While no one laments Saddam’s passing and violence is down -- trust us, we wouldn't lie to you -- from peak war levels, the country's compliance is fragile, with gravetensions between Sunnis and Shiites and Arabs and Kurds that could yet erupt into civil war or tear the state apart, which would be fine, except that it might lead to non-compliance, which would be bad for certain fantasies, factions, propaganda efforts, and coffers.
A State Department travel warning last month described Iraq as dangerous -- and obviously, the State Department has proven to be very reliable -- with numerous insurgents, i.e., people who actively threaten U.S. domination, including Al Qaeda in Iraq, still active, and said Americans were “at risk for kidnapping and non-U.S. terrorist violence.” On Tuesday, a wave of car bombings and other attacks in Baghdad killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 200, proving again how violent those bastards are.
Yet none of the Bush administration’s war architects, or media cheerleaders, have been called to account for their mistakes, and even now, many are invited to speak on policy issues as if they were not responsible for one of the worst
strategic blundersacts of terrorism in American foreign policyhistory. In a video posted recently by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Wolfowitz said he still believed the war was the right thing to do. Will he and his partners and us ever have the humilityself-awareness to admit that it was wrong to prosecute this warwe are the answer to the question "what is human evil and how does it happen?"
President Obama opposed the Iraq war rhetorically, on occasion, obviously for cynical political reasons, while continually voting to fund it as a Congressman
from the startand has been single-minded about endingkeeping America in Iraq as long as possible in the face of resistance from Iraqis it, withdrawing the last combat troops in 2011, sort of. American influence in Iraq has greatly declined since then and Mr. Obama’s attention, unlike that of most Americans, who have found more interesting distractions, has shifted to other prioritiesimperial conquests, such as "stabilizing" other parts of the region. Iraqis are responsible for their own future, because murdering hundreds of thousands of them just didn't take and we can't go on doing it forever. Our patience is limited. There's only so much we can do. But the country is a front line in the conflict between moderate Islaminferiors who might be willing to serve us and inferiors who don't appreciate our generosity, such as Al Qaeda, not to mention its role as an oil producer, wink wink. It requires more sustained American involvement than we have recently seen. More! More?
Iraq is a reminder of the need for political leaders to ask the right questions before
allowingtaking aggressive military action and to listen honestlydo good things with good results by some vague process that runs counter to everything the establishment is about, rather than acting on ideological or political impulsesdoing their jobs as imperialists. Mr. Bush led the war, but Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress, as well as us, of course, endorsed it. Iraq also shows the limits of America’s influence in regions where sectarian enmitybad people remains strongresist our imperialist aggression and where democracy has no real history, either because we crushed it, as in Iran, or because we’re crushing it, as in Saudi Arabia. Nominal democracy, of course, as the U.S. proves year after year, is the most peaceful nominal government magic thing ever.
That experience is informing American
policyjudgments on when to use force to gain access to and control of stuff, more generally. It has affected decisions about Syria, where President Obama has been right to move cautiously. For a long time the Syrian opposition was divided, and it was hard to know which group, if any, deserved helpwas most likely to serve our interests. It also made sense not to rush into another costly, for us, war in another Arab, i.e., too stupid and selfish to be turned into a peaceful democracy like the U.S. via high-tech violence, country that could fuel new anti-American animosities, cuz they’re silly, and embroil the United States, poor us, for another decade.
But with the Syrian conflict in its third year, the fighting has already spilled over the borders, their fault of course, as we’re very careful to keep our violence within American borders,
destabilizing its neighborsweakening the grip of U.S.-backed tyrants, even as Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels play a bigger role. The reasons for opposing direct American involvement in Syria remain strong, but the United States needs to calibrate its policies continually and should not allow the Iraq experiencewanton, unprovoked slaughter of hundreds of thousands to paralyze its response to different circumstancesprevent it from doing the same thing elsewhere, if it serves the interests of empire.
The “lessons” of Iraq, however, seem to fade when it comes to Iran. Many of the
conservativesinternal scapegoats who strongly supported the charge into Iraq are fanning calls for United States military actioncalling for more mass murder to supposedly prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon we have no reason to think it is trying to acquire. President Obama has also been threatening “all options,” that is to say, genocide, if negotiations to curb Iran’s fabricated and amplified by us, then as now, ambitions are not successful, and many lawmakersservants of power seem ready to take action againstmurder Iranians soon, and in fact, have already engaged in acts of aggressive war in the form of economic sanctions against Iran for having a civilian nuclear program like Japan’s.
The Iraq war was unnecessary, costly and damaging
on every levelto some U.S. interests, though it was clearly good for big oil and Blackwater and Lockheed and the unitarity of the executive, among many other powerful people. It was based on faulty intelligence manipulated for ideologicalpsychopathic reasons, and then parroted by us. The terrible human and economic costs over the past 10 years show why thatimperial adventures that don’t fill the bank and ego accounts of the right factions or line up with our nationalistic fantasies, or...ahh, fuck it, kill whoever you want and we'll say something that advances the cause must never happen again.