Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some Grand Square In Baghdad

Comes now another anniversary.  A different, quieter, more shameful, slower-rolling anniversary, which will feature no eloquent speeches by the great and the good, and which most of our media will not cover with vintage archival footage and panels of eloquent experts but will instead dispose of using the same, battle-tested method that abusive drunks have been employing to great success since the dawn time.  The same method that battle-tested drunk Peggy Noonan once advised us all to deploy in the face of revelations of torture.


No, honey, Daddy never hit Mommy...because...Hey!...Who wants pancakes!

Just walk on by baby!

But of course, somewhere way down deep, most drunks and junkies and abusers and their enables know that however quickly they whistle past the graveyard, the graveyard is still there. And as the tenth anniversary of The War To Pretend That The War In Iraq Is Going Great (tm) slouches into view, the dead are still there.  The maimed are still there.  The widows and the widowers are still there.  Those we tortured are still there and their torturers still walk free.  The parents who had to bury their children are still there, as are the children who had to bury Mom or Dad.  And the waste, the unconscionable waste, still hangs over us  Trillions that could have been spent caring for our sick and elderly, feeding our hungry and educating everyone, pissed away into the Iraqi desert.  A fragile national sense of purpose and tragic unity that could have been cultivated and used to great and good things, used up and thrown away on the folly of idiots and madmen.

All still there.

You know what isn't there?   The peaceful, grateful, liberated Iraq that, 10 years ago next month, at (where else) an American Enterprise Institute luncheon keynote address, Richard Perle promised us was juuuust over the horizon --
"And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they've been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation."
-- back in the day when Perle was every-fucking-where.  Back in the day when, on any given day, you could find an up-and-coming Neocon careerist like David Frum humping Perle's leg like a puppy while at exactly the same time you could also find up-and-coming Neocon careerist David Brooks using his newly-inherited New York Times job-for-life to insist that the existence and influence of the Neocons was largely an ugly myth invented by antisemitic "full-mooners":
The Era of Distortion
Published: January 06, 2004

Do you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged from reality? I started feeling that way awhile ago, when I was still working for The Weekly Standard and all these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bunch of ''neoconservatives'' at the magazine had taken over U.S. foreign policy.

The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.

We'd sit around the magazine guffawing at the ludicrous stories that kept sprouting, but belief in shadowy neocon influence has now hardened into common knowledge. Wesley Clark, among others, cannot go a week without bringing it up.

In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for ''conservative'' and neo is short for ''Jewish'') travel in widely different circles and don't actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy, but I've been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he's shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.

It's true that both Bush and the people labeled neocons agree that Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to world peace. But correlation does not mean causation. All evidence suggests that Bush formed his conclusions independently. Besides, if he wanted to follow the neocon line, Bush wouldn't know where to turn because while the neocons agree on Saddam, they disagree vituperatively on just about everything else. (If you ever read a sentence that starts with ''Neocons believe,'' there is a 99.44 percent chance everything else in that sentence will be untrue.)

Still, there are apparently millions of people who cling to the notion that the world is controlled by well-organized and malevolent forces. And for a subset of these people, Jews are a handy explanation for everything.

Improvements in information technology have not made public debate more realistic. On the contrary, anti-Semitism is resurgent. Conspiracy theories are prevalent. Partisanship has left many people unhinged.

Welcome to election year, 2004.
Good times!

History records that after Iraq went tits-up David Brooks managing to snag a part-time teaching gig at some Learning Annex somewhere as he sank quickly into ignominious obscurity, but little is know of what became of him after that.  Does anybody know if he's on LinkedIn?  Because while I'm glad to see him gone, from time to time I do find myself idly curious about what happens to such a person after every single one of the toxic ideas they championed so loudly for so long blows up so emphatically and spectacularly.

Iraq, on the other hand, never went away, and ten years after Perle's bold predictions about grand squares and liberation, we can actually check in on the Project for a New American Century's grandest Project of all.

From the Christian Science Monitor, August 28, 2013:
Where Iraq's Maliki pins the blame for Baghdad bombings 
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the Syrian war has awakened dormant Sunni-Shiite tensions.

A series of bombs ripped through Baghdad on Wednesday morning. At least 30 people were killed and 170 injured, according to a ministry of interior official. Attackers coordinated at least 14 car bombs, two roadside bombs, and one suicide bomb between the early morning and 11:00 am.

The explosions targeted predominately Shiite neighborhoods during rush hour.  No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, but similar attacks have been carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The attacks continue an upward trend of violence in Iraq that has brought a level of bloodshed not seen here since 2008. Last month alone 1,057 people lost their lives and another 2,326 were injured in violent attacks throughout Iraq. This year more than 4,000 Iraqis have died and more than 10,000 have been injured by attacks like today's. Baghdad has suffered more attacks than any other area of the country.

In a weekly televised address shortly after Wednesday’s bombings, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki directly linked his country’s deteriorating security to the conflict in Syria. “The internal situation in Syria is playing a major role with what’s happening in Iraq,” he said.
But as deep a scar as our Iraqi Adventure has left on the world -- and as sober a reminder as it should be from now until the end of days to any American president who is contemplating the making of war in that volatile neighborhood --  I'd give Cubs-win-the-pennant odds that none of the millions of miles of video that were shot or thousands of barrels of ink that were spilled during The War To Pretend That The War In Iraq Is Going Great (tm) will make it back into the conversations around any of the tables at the Sunday Morning Gasbag conclave.

Because some of life has to be mysterious. 

And the rest of life apparently has to be vermouth.


Anonymous said...

The President's decision to let it rain on Syria like Kid Rock at a strip club just off Eight Mile Road will have nothing whatsoever to do with the gas-bags that we can hear flatulating on a Sunday morning talk show.

OBS said...

The President's decision to let it rain on Syria like Kid Rock at a strip club just off Eight Mile Road will have nothing whatsoever to do with the gas-bags that we can hear flatulating on a Sunday morning talk show.

Man oh man do I wish that were true.

Jack said...

Damn. That video of the IED is disturbing. You see the convoy slow down and stop before resuming. We probably will never know why they did that, but it's hard not to wonder if it's because the driver suspected danger lurked ahead - but then stepped on the gas and plowed forward anyway, hoping for the best. God be with them.

Remember just a few years ago when we were subject to terrible images like this *every day*? It reminds me all over again how *angry* we used to be at Bush and his crew of crooks for what they were doing to our service members. So many young men and women who had to pay the price for Bush's arrogant folly.

As the years have passed and the memories fade, the anger has drained away. The video momentarily brings just a sliver of it back to the surface. Damn you, Bush and Cheney!


Another one of the points I learned from Chomsky was that Americans were so war-averse after Vietnam that Washington found it impossible to launch military adventures without a massive public backlash. This was described by Washington elites as "the Vietnam syndrome," as if the public's distaste for war was some kind of disease. A central preoccupation for Washington opinion-makers was to cure that disease, and Ronald Reagan is beloved because he restored our taste for blood and folly.

It's interesting watching the full-scale freakout over the limited air strikes Obama is now considering. I never recall limited air strikes being described as "war," before. All over the internet we see people screaming about Obama "going to war."

Apparently we have now contracted "Iraq Syndrome." Some segment of the population is so sick of war that any hint of military action immediately feels like we are risking a return to the reckless, hopeless full scale conflict we suffered through during the Bush/Cheney years.

And that has to be a good thing.

sblefty said...

Thank you for tirelessly pointing out what a scumbag David brooks is. Out of all of the disgusting, rightwing, careerist, scum, Brooks is the worst. Everything about him makes me literally sick. If only hell were real...