Four Years On

Link:

Smaller protests were held in other U.S. cities, stretching to Tuesday’s four-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion. In Los Angeles, Vietnam veteran Ed Ellis, 59, hoped the demonstrations would be the “tipping point” against a war that has killed more than 3,200 U.S. troops and engulfed Iraq in a deadly cycle of violence.

“It’s all moving in our direction, it’s happening,” he predicted at the Hollywood rally. “The administration, their get-out-of-jail-free card, they don’t get one anymore.”

So you know it’s wrong, and I know it’s wrong, and even Republicans seem to know it’s not exactly sunshine and kittens and joy and love over there, and politicians have turned against it, and presidential candidates have been pressured to say they shouldn’t have voted for it, and our national press is waking up to the fact that somebody somewhere may have the right to have the opinion that this war kind of sucks without being a dirty fucking hippie. So it’s four years in, and we know all that, and there’s candles burning in windows for peace and people marching.

What’s it going to look like, in a year? If our politicians are still cowed by those who prop up their own careers by calling other people pussies, if our leaders continue to shirk their leadership and make their lives a testament to the ordinary and achievable? What’s it going to look like, in a year, when people are still marching, and the windows are rattling with the sound of their songs, but the people we elected are deaf to the sounds? Are still talking about one last chance? This war could go on forever, because that’s what wars do, they go on, unless someone stops them. What’s it going to look like, in a year?

Four years on, we’ve lost thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians, we’ve destroyed two countries, theirs and our own. If you think Iraq won’t be the issue in 2008 you’re kidding yourselves; if you think Iraq won’t be the issue in 2024 you’re kidding yourselves even more. Every even-numbered year is going to be about this, from now until the last veteran of this war dies, because that’s how wars work, they stain forward, bloody those who fought them and those who waged them. Killing someone doesn’t just end that person’s life. It divides yours, too, into before you were the person who did that, and after. Four years on, we can’t face what we did to Iraq; fifty years on I’ll be shocked if we can face what we did to ourselves.

America is a young country; we forget that Vietnam was just a moment ago, in the timeline of a civilization. Maybe that’s why we haven’t learned, because we don’t have any distance. Because five years, ten years, twenty years, thirty years, forty years on, we’re still tearing ourselves apart to have the conversation after that we should have had before: Can we do this, can we carry it? We can’t answer that question because we can’t even ask it, can’t look that hard at what lies underneath our actions. We’re afraid.

(Every time I talk about Douglas Feith I get asked about the layers of incompetence within the Bush administration, the way in which someone like him was allowed to happen, made to happen, flourished. Every time I say when you’re led by people this craven and frightened, Doug Feith is what you get.)

Four years on, this is what we get.

A.

12 thoughts on “Four Years On

  1. cannablog says:

    The Iraq QuadrennialRemembrance

    Four years later.

  2. BuggyQ says:

    I can’t remember where I heard it, but it was one of the pundits who said something to the effect of the U.S. is in this mess because we haven’t figured out how to handle being the ONLY superpower left. It was one thing when we had the Soviets as the enemy, because nations all over the world would back us (or the Soviets, depending on ideology) solely to gain our protection. Now, those nations don’t have to have our protection any more–their main threats are regional, and they can handle most of it themselves or with minimal support from, say, the EU, or from larger regional alliances.
    So now, we can’t just go barging around the world, demanding fealty. That’s Dubya’s biggest foreign policy failing, and Condi’s, too. Both are still stuck in that Cold War mindset, and can’t seem to understand why all those nations aren’t lining up to help us.
    My big fear is that we’re not going to see an administration capable of really adjusting to this new paradigm until we get to a generation that grew up in the post-Cold War era. *That’s* the big war that stains us, I think. Vietnam (and before it, Korea, and after it, Afghanistan) was just a particularly painful symptom of the larger problem.

  3. pluege says:

    its been the same script for going on 7 years – almost everyone knows that what we’re doing is wrong. For the most part bush can’t defend what he’s doing and cheney is always in alternative reality denial. Yet because bush wants it so, and bush/cheney and a few harpies support whatever it is just because its not what everyone else wants, we all have to suffer through bushworld horrors.
    The Constitution has its soaring ideals about protecting against the tyranny of the majority. The founders don’t seem to have anticipated what we have today: tyranny of a minority. (Sure they gave us impeachment, but look how effective that’s been over the years. Its been used on occasion when it shouldn’t have been and not used when it should have – like today, like NOW!)
    .

  4. MapleStreet says:

    frenchdm comes close to 2 of my greatest fears 1) that the Republicans may be somewhat successful (especially with their base which still supports Shrub) in somehow transferring the blame to the Demos (after all, they think Rush and Bill-O are geniuses) and/or 2) that the Republican Senators/ House/ State and local officials may be somewhat successful in painting the failure as Shrub (conveniently forgetting that Shrub is the result of the Neocon machine marching lockstep to the Neocon philosophy).

  5. pansypoo says:

    technically, een FDR couldn’t ‘win’ this mess. but he wouldn’t have fucked it up as much. but more important, he wouldn’t have started it. LBJ? yes. Truman? maybe. but this was a mistake from day 1.
    it’s the democrats war if they don’t end it.

  6. frenchdm says:

    John H. Farr represents the new voice of Republicans. They started this war but don’t have the courage to end it. So, they need the Democrats take and it for them.
    America should have known better than electing such as terribly sick man has our President. But, we elected him and democracy is suffering for it.
    The military-industrial complex is clearly running the show in spite of President Eisenhower’s warnings against it. When you read columns like on MSNBC yesterday about how the Iraq war is a “bargain” you know greed has overtaken logic.
    Every time you see a baby and think “Oh how cute” think about the fact that our generation has forced upon them an unbearable tax burden throughout every year of their adult life. Our generations’ legacy violates the most valued principle of the “great generation” telling us to “leave no debt.”

  7. Sophmom says:

    Brilliant piece. One of the best things I’ve seen written about this, ever. Wars do “stain forward, bloody those who fought them and those who waged them.” Great, great post. Thank you, Athenae.

  8. frenchdm says:

    John H. Farr represents the new voice of Republicans. They started this war but don’t have the courage to end it. So, they need the Democrats to end it for them.
    America should have known better than electing such as terribly sick man as our President. But, we elected him and democracy is suffering for it.
    The military-industrial complex is clearly running the show in spite of President Eisenhower’s warnings against it. When you read columns about how the Iraq war is a “bargain” you know greed has overtaken logic.
    Every time you see a baby and think “Oh how cute” think about the fact that our generation has forced upon them an unbearable tax burden throughout every year of their adult life. Our generations’ legacy violates the most valued principle of the “great generation” telling us to “leave no debt.”

  9. S2 says:

    right again.

  10. John H. Farr says:

    The main point is that THE DEMOCRATS OWN THIS WAR NOW… and that means all the blogospheric strategizing about this vote or that vote is just bullshit heaped on bullshit. This war belongs to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi now, and as far as I can tell, they don’t intend to do a goddamned thing about it.
    Which means I don’t have to pay any attention any more.

  11. Robert Earle says:

    You mean four years, don’t you. We’re finishing four years, starting fifth year.

  12. hoppycalif says:

    When you give a man, who has no conscience, no sense of judgement, no morals, an opportunity to play “commander in chief”, you should expect something terrible to happen. It’s like giving a 6 year old a loaded gun. We can only hope the American people have learned that such people do not ever belong in the White House.
    We can help that learning process by using a tried and proven technique – repetition. Say it again and again – American presidents must demonstrate good judgement, a conscience, a commitment to morality, long before they deserve our votes to become our “commander in chief”.
    No one can be given the opportunity to develop good judgement after assuming the role of “commander in chief”. That would risk getting ourselves involved in a never ending, unjustified, illegal war that kills and maims hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings. We can’t afford that risk.

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