Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years and Counting-

Five years ago last night I walked down to the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge and held a candle as part of a peace vigil on the eve of the American attack on Iraq. That evening seems at once to have been just a short while ago, and half a lifetime away.


The American invasion of Iraq began five years ago. The invasion began a war which had been sold to the American public and the world as “necessary” through a series of lies- the lie of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the lie of Iraq’s support of Al Quaeda, and the lie of an Iraqi tie to the 9-11 attacks. As a “war” it continues as a lie, the largest, most destructive lie of our generation.

Whatever George Bush may tell you, the Iraq War itself ended long ago, just a few weeks after it began, and America won. By the time George Bush made his touchdown on that aircraft carrier and had his picture taken under a “Mission Accomplished” banner, the War was over, the Iraqi government was deposed, and there was no longer an Iraqi army to offer resistance. That, by any definition, was the end of the Iraq War.

What has followed over the last five years has been the occupation of Iraq by American troops, and violent resistance to that occupation. The occupation and the resistance to it have been bloody and costly, unimaginably so. But this is not a war, it is an occupation. That may seem to be a trivial point, but it is not for two reasons.

First, by calling this bloody occupation a “war” George Bush and the Republicans gain the political high ground. It is far easier to support a war than an occupation, and to demand more blood, more bodies and more money for it. You can be sure that when September and October roll around and the Presidential campaign is in high gear, we will hear a lot about “the war” from the Republicans, and by allowing them to define it that way the Democrats have lost a major part of the political battle before they have even opened their mouths.

Secondly, the distinction between a war and occupation is important because history shows that while most wars have definite ends, with winners and losers, it also shows that occupations rarely end until the occupying power gets fed up with wasting blood and treasure and leaves.

George Bush, however, for political and personal reasons is determined to convince the country that we are still “at war”, and that the “war” must continue until we, the occupiers, “win”. So let us for a moment give George Bush the existence of his “war”, because it brings us to the other fundamental lie he is putting forward.

George Bush keeps telling us that the “war” should be run by the military, not the politicians, and that it is the duty of politicians and the public to support the military while it is fighting a war. I can certainly agree that we all owe the troops our support, but there seems to be a huge gulf between George Bush’s definition of “support” and mine.

To begin with, the responsibility of the military in war is in directing troops, not formulating policy, and that is an important point which George Bush has either conveniently forgotten or is deliberately trying to suppress. The policy of war –whether to fight, who to fight, and when to stop, is the responsibility of the President and Congress, and theirs alone. The Constitution says so. In many wars in our history there has been little to debate- “yes”, most everyone said, “by all means, continue the war”. World War 2 is an example of the country coming together for a common goal.

But what about an unpopular war which was misguided to begin with and is being prolonged with no discernible goal? When, and who, gets to say “enough is enough”? It is not (as George Bush suggests) up to the military to make that decision- the responsibility belongs to the President and Congress. The Constitution says so (actually, the Constitution says it is up to Congress alone, but don’t tell George Bush that, because it makes him mad). So when George Bush tells Congress that they are wrong to debate whether to continue the “war” he is wrong- dangerously, Un-Constitutionally wrong.

And what of “supporting” the troops? Yes, we all should certainly support them. The President, Congress and the people owe them the support of only sending them to war with good equipment, with good reasons, and with an achievable goal, and we have failed on all counts. We owe them the support of not asking them to shed their blood or waste their lives futilely, and so we owe it to them to focus on why they are being asked to fight, and to bring them home when there is no good answer. George Bush’s “war” in Iraq, which was launched with lies, has now become an end in itself, and that is the point at which we must step back, take a deep breath, support our troops and say “enough”.


Malach the Merciless said...


Phoebe Fay said...

Excellent post!

Also, when talking about war run my the military, not the politicians, Bush would like us to forget that he's politicized the military, that generals who disagree with his preset goals have a funny way of retiring rather abruptly.

Bastard. I can barely even half think about this horrible anniversary without feeling like my head will explode.

Colonel Colonel said...

Malach: can I get an Amen! for George W's head on a stick? AMEN!!

Phoebe: well, thanks! I measure all political commentaries against the very reasoned and cogent ones you write.

Phoebe Fay said...

Oh, and just so it's completely clear, "bastard" refers to the petulant little fuckhead in chief. I didn't want any ambiguity about that.

Beach Bum said...

Bush has damaged this country far more than Osama could have dreamed of doing. We are despised in huge portions of the world that stood with us after 9/11. He has wrecked the military of both people and equipment which will take years to replace the equipment and a lifetime for the families of the dead and injured as he sits out his years at his ranch. The money spent that could have gone to repair our country, educate children, or be spent on research to create more jobs and opportunity for all has seeped away to hidden accounts of people both here in the US and Iraqi lackeys. Yeah, I would have to say Bush has out done Osama at least 10,000 times.

Mike said...

Great post Colonel. Excellent.

I watched the moron give his little speech this morning and he is a very disgusting man.

There's a poster I have seen around that says"

Support Our Troops. Bring Them Home.

KellyNerd said...

My marmalade is in my stomach where it should be! lol

Lots of food for thought here... and wonderfully written!

anaglyph said...

Sadly, beach bum is right about George Bush having badly damaged America's image in the rest of the world. Up until he came along, I think that many of us viewed the US as a necessary... I won't say 'evil' I guess... a necessary presence on the world stage; the Big Brother you have to have who you sometimes don't like but generally does the right thing.

Bush however 'queered the pitch' as we say - gained control of the most powerful country in the world and through incompetence or malice (or maybe equal measures of each) made America into a country to be feared and loathed rather than admired. And it's not just the Iraq occupation either - his simplistic moral standards, his relentless undermining of science and education and his dumb cowboy posturing has made him the worst figurehead of your country since Richard Nixon.

Indeed, I wonder if his damage isn't irreparable. It has to be said: whoever wins the elections has got a tough road ahead of them. Not only do they have the task of setting America's internal affairs to rights, they need to address this huge image problem and try and mitigate the steadily worsening damage.

No way would I want that job.

AngryMan said...

Let's keep the dream alive, baby. America isn't made of pansy-ass quitters! We can do it, yes we can!

Of course, maybe we should ask what it is that we're doing . . .

Colonel Colonel said...

BB: It's true, when you calculate the actual cost of the war you have to include all sorts of things that the bean-counters don't usually figure in.

Mike: There are bumper stickers saying that around here.

Kelly: Good to hear the marmalade is safe!

Reverend: I'm still hoping that a reasonable (Obama), hope-inspiring (Obama) new President (Obama) will be seen as a new leaf (Obama) by the rest of the world.

Now, who could we get that would fit such a description? hmmm...

Angryman: The Decider said this morning that if we ask what we are doing, THE TERRORISTS WIN!

Kerstin said...

Truer words were never spoken.

Sad...but so, so true. Nice post.

here today, gone tomorrow said...

Beautiful, colonel colonel, beautiful. A perfectly written post.

Anonymous said...

Great post. You are right in that the troops should be supported, but the war/occupation...not. The troops are there because they are told to be there. That is their function in life. I know that us Canadians took a lot of flack for not supporting the invasion of Iraq, but we just didn't see what Bush was seeing...and now know that Bush was seeing illusions. Grand illusions.

Again, great post!!