Thursday, December 15, 2011
The End of an Error
The war in Iraq officially ended today. I honestly wasn't sure I'd ever see this day.
I've written, spoken, screamed, argued, spat out, and drunkenly slurred so many words on so many occasions damning this war and those who started it, and now on the day of its end, I'm having trouble finding thoughts to contribute.
It's hard to eulogize a war when one can't even articulate why we fought it. I still don't know. In fact, with every year I think the war has made even less sense. Maybe Bush really did think Iraq had nukes and ties to Al Qaeda. If so, perhaps one day, when we can speak honestly about Iraq, we can take a lesson from it about qualities to avoid in a presidential candidate. It is certainly a warning against electing charismatic dimwits, people with no intellectual curiosity and a philosophy of decision-making "from the gut."
Maybe in the future, Americans will force themselves to keep their cool in the aftermath of an attack, telling themselves: "don't do anything rash or allow yourselves to be conned. Remember Iraq."
Iraq could prove the anti-WWII. Neoconservatives, for instance, think war is always the answer, citing World War II as historical precedent. Every foreign leader becomes Hitler, all of their crimes become the Holocaust, every American president has the choice to be Chamberlain or Churchill.
Perhaps Iraq could become a catch-all reason to keep our cool and not listen to those who would con us into war. Perhaps every "bad guy" could become Saddam Hussein, unarmed and besieged, wrongfully accused of being a threat to the US but unable to admit he has no super-secret nuclear program because it's the only thing keeping Iran at bay. Every ostensible reason for invasion becomes Iraqi WMD, existent only in the fever dreams of the administration. Every warmonger could become Colin Powell, dangling falsified evidence that the proponents of war call "ironclad." And every president is in trouble of becoming George W. Bush, blinded by the need for revenge, manipulated by his underlings and advisors, impervious to all countervailing evidence, firing weapons inspector and weapons inspector when they return to report that the enemy's mobile weapons labs are a myth.
I'll end by recalling that it was the terrorist attacks of September 11, and the need for revenge, that were a primary cause of the war. As of today, 4,487 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, about 1,000 more than the total casualties of 9/11.