Monday, March 20, 2006

Iraq three year anniversary: Why are they surprised?


[Edit: I reposted this Saturday post due to problems accessing it. Apparently changing the title makes the original inaccessible from some pages. Thanks for the email heads up!]




It's not without some satisfaction the headlines come flying at me: Republican Party is Over for Bush (Houston Chronicle), Impeach Bush Chorus Grows (Times Online UK), Two Thirds in US Say Bush is Mishandling Iraq (Forbes). Sure, there's schadenfreude. More importantly, though, there's incredulity and sorrow.

Have Bush's central policies changed since, oh, 2002? Has his personality fundamentally altered? I don't think so. Sad to say, but nearly everything we read today about his administration and their basic conceits were - and are - predictable. Not only that, but people pinpointed them in 2002.

Take, for example, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Everything you needed to know abo
ut where the Bush and his cronies (and therefore we) were headed was highlighted in that movie. Moore may be a polemicist, but he's the Herb Alpert of documentarians: he doesn't get near enough credit and his skills are more than people are willing to acknowledge.

War for fictitious reasons - remember that? He took quite the beating for speaking out so soon after the Iraq debacle began. And yet, years later. . .we now know this war that has killed 120,000 Iraqis and over 2000 troops is based on just that: fiction. No WMD. No real threat. No mushroom cloud.

In F 9/11, we saw a peace group infiltrated and surveilled. A skeptical public didn't want to believe their eyes. That can't be happening nationwide. Must've been a local thing. Or maybe Moore talked to a bunch of paranoid peaceniks?

Now we know for certain the FBI's been watching Greenpeace, the Quakers, The Catholic Workers. We know NSA spies on us without warrants. Moore's Colorado peace group must feel vindicated.

Though not really alone, he managed to bring together groups of people who felt they were just that: marginalized, powerless, somehow unpatriotic for daring to disagree and question.

Back in 2001, Jason and I spent more time trading computer printouts - pithy and sarcastic comments written in margins - than we did working. Well, not really that much; but a fair amount of our time was spent discussing the oncoming trainwreck we both saw. Before the war. Before the treasury was looted. Before everything truly went to hell and half the company was laid-off (including both of us).

Most crucially, it was before we knew how many others sensed as we did, and we felt marooned together on some political island, especially after 9/11.

But then, we both knew about 1997's Project for a New American Century think tank, and the imperialistic warmongering goals contained therein. Yes, even about war with Iran. It's a veritable blueprint for endless war, signed by many of Bush's "top" people, and written in the late 90's. I'm still amazed by how many people have no knowledge of it, even though the documents are online. More amazing is that their documents basically stated none of their goals could be accomplished without another Pearl Harbor type event to rally the public behind war. Funny, how life just works out exactly as desired, sometimes. . .

I often wonder what Jason thinks now, as he's completing grad school in Colorado. Does he find sudden public awareness both reassuring and annoying, as I do?

In 2004, experienced generals predicted unstoppable civil war in Iraq. People told me they were crazy - I was crazy. The war was going relatively well. We'd be out in no time.

Even prior to invasion, skeptics said civil war was inevitable. During the runup, the announcement of war when I sat crying and drinking in front of the television, I knew better. Would like to think most of us knew better. Even the most slackjawed students of history know war is nearly always ideologically fought, unremittingly painful, seldom won and inevitably more harmful than good for everyone concerned. A civil war scenario was described, in vivid detail, by Iraqis themselves and the most honest of Iraq scholars. NPR's foreign correspondent Anne Garrels spoke with Iraqis, often furtively when their "minders" were away for a moment, and produced a segment on this. I remember an Iraqi explaining that though Hussein was hated and feared, he managed to keep the four factions of Iraq from warring with one another. Something the Iraqi feared wouldn't be the case if he were overthrown.

Fast forward to 2006. Quelle surprise to see all of this play out. So where were we? What went wrong? How did we allow for these horrific scenarios? There's no simple answer. A convergence of both events and personalities led us here, and looking back decades from now, they'll form a more distinct, though still murky, picture. At the center will be 9/11 and a complacent, wealthy nation overrun by unmitigated fear, searching blindly and grasping onto a seemingly benevolent, genial father figure. But instead of assuaging our fears, he furthered his agenda through capitalizing on them. All according to plan, some may say - though I've not crossed the rubicon completely on this issue.

But none of it: not the pious seeming patriotism, the ignorance to preplanned empire building, the kickbacks, treasury looting, mendacity, craven neglect of our own nation and false drumbeat to war -- none of it could be accomplished without a willing and duplicitious press.

Where was the mainstream media for the past six years? It didn't take a Rhodes Scholar to look at Bush's Texas record and predict a miserable future. Yet they remained silent. Worse, they heaped scorn on anyone daring to challenge Bush, be they political opponents, army generals, Iraqi or concerned American citizens, or the occasional brave pundit.

Now they're acting surprised at the disaster they helped create?

It could've been stopped, and they were the ones to educate the public about PNAC, ask the questions and give voice to people like me, Jason and the millions in America who didn't like getting peed on and being told it was raining.

So, while I'm slightly happy the tide appears to be turning, I'm not counting on it. Every so often they toss us all a bone, recognize our concerns and play journalists. Inevitably they return to their bubbles full of softball questions, cheerleading, pandering and painting rosy pictures. I've concluded that they're bought and sold, just like our country now is. And I've no long-term hope for either.

Welcome to reality, corporate whores. You helped create it. But we've been waiting years for you to arrive.
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