MISSION GONE BAD

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Iraq Channel: Opinion Views: 2984

"The best strategic minds in both parties have argued for months that the answer is essentially to muddle our way out, cut our losses carefully and try to salvage what we can from a mission gone bad."

This isn't pretty. Not when you think about the glory we reveled in four years ago. A superpower swooped into Iraq, routed a dictator, toppled a statue. Our Prez did the equivalent of a dance in the end zone aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. Damn, we're good. 

And now? All that glory is something at the back of the refrigerator. "A mission gone bad." Hold your nose and see what you can salvage. Here's Time magazine in its July 30 cover story, holding its nose, detailing the ignominy:" U.S. agricultural inspectors insist that, before it re-enters the U.S., Army equipment be free of any microscopic disease that ...'can wipe out flocks of chickens and stuff like that.'"

Bawk-k-k! Bawk-k-k! 

This is what the backside of disaster looks like. Time calls it phased withdrawal, but you have permission to call it retreat. Suddenly America's best strategic minds are thinking about this. We have to get our troops out, plus all those civilians, including America-friendly Iraqis (yeah, sure). And then there's the equipment: tanks, trucks, helicopters, Humvees, the contents of 10 ammo dumps. But war also employs "downtime gear": vending machines, furniture, mobile latrines, computers, paperclips. The Pentagon will salvage as much of this stuff as it can, the magazine informs us (presumably sanitizing it first). 

The Time article is itself a part of the phased withdrawal, of course -as the invasion's mainstream cheerleaders finally begin confronting the mess we're in, in all its morning-after glory. The first thing they need to salvage is some dignity: their own, the president's, the nation's. This could be done by coming clean, facing up to the immensity of our mistake, vowing never to make it again. But this is retreat, not surrender. The strategy for now is to learn as little as we can, to abandon Iraq to the demons we unleashed but keep the lie of our reasonableness and good intentions intact.

The lie is woven into Time's reportage in many ways, but perhaps most blatantly with its depiction of two opposing "camps" here at home that are equally rash. Camp A wants to "pull out as quickly as possible." Camp B says we must "remain in Iraq until a democracy emerges from the chaos of the Middle East -a project they openly acknowledge is the work of a generation." 

One side represents rational urgency, the other psychotic denial; but Time delivers us "balance," fatuously opining that "neither approach makes much sense," then proceeding to acknowledge the necessity of phased withdrawal, which means, in effect, "pull out as quickly as possible" (but don't forget the latrines and paperclips).

However, the effect of not saying overtly what one is saying in actuality (shhh, don't tell anybody) is to avoid letting responsibility land anywhere -on the neo-con cabal that invaded Iraq on trumped-up intelligence, the war-profiteering sector of the economy or, ahem, the criminally gullible mainstream media that pushed the war on the American public. Instead of responsibility, what the magazine serves up is good old-fashioned know-nothingism. Iraq is a mission gone bad.

I would put it a little differently. Pre-emptively bombing the be-jesus out of a non-hostile, essentially defenseless country, brutally and incompetently occupying it for an indefinite period of time, torturing many of its citizens and setting off a civil war is not a mission gone bad. It's a war crime. 

In contrast to Time's journalism lite, The Nation recently ran a harrowing investigative piece by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian called "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness." Based on interviews with 50 Iraq vets who generated thousands of pages of transcripts, it contains detailed accounts of the reality of our mission from the point of view of those who carried it out, and are emotionally if not physically scarred for life because of it.

Their words are almost too much to bear. Over and over again, these vets talked about American contempt for the lives and dignity of ordinary Iraqis, including, for God's sake, the children. This quote is typical:

"This unit sets up this traffic control point, and this 18-year-old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun. This car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split-second decision that that's a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts 200 rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father and two kids. The boy was aged 4 and the daughter was aged 3."

So it goes in Iraq. Scared American kids with guns run roughshod over the locals -the "hajis" -because that's their job. Their mission was conceived in arrogance and racism. It was doomed to fail and it deserved to fail. The great accounting must begin.

Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at [email protected] or visit his Web site at commonwonders.com.

2007 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


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  7 Comments   Comment

  1. Mansoor from India

    I am really appalled at the insensitivity towards the killing of Muslim kids and women by the "liberators" and the utter lack of respect towards other civilizations and people exhibited by the Americans.I for one has been thouroughly Un-Americanized by the Americans themselves.

  2. Sylvia Horton from Canada

    Salam Alaikum to all,

    I agree whole heartedly with this article. What do you expect when you give an 18 year old a gun and God knows what other weapons? About two years ago, whenever I was in my home in the U.S., a young man in my home stated that he wanted to go to Iraq just to kill some Iraqi's. Needless to say, I had some choice words for him being that he was in my home. He too was no older than 20 at the time. Yes, a lot of Americans went to Iraq based on racism, revenge, and arrogance. Don't believe me, there was a documentary called the "Ground Truth" out about a few months ago. The soilders just told the ugly side of the war. Maybe it is something that George would find interesting. Honestly, I found it hard to watch. After that documentary, I really did wake up.

    Muslims all over the world really do need to wake up, and to get their act together. Then, and only then, will Allah give us his help.

    Fatimah

  3. CJ from USA

    Would someone please take Obama aside and teach him how to fast. Clearly he needs to be taught how to protect himself. Sad when someone wanting to be the "words most powerful man" doesn't know how not to become the pawn of the devil.

  4. Charles Jacks from USA

    The "preemptive liberation" excuse should be seen as the idea of an incompetent mind at best or a sly excuse for abuse at its depths. Either way criminal incompetence is obvious, both for the stated goals as well as the ones only stated to Israelis behind closed doors. All those championing this strategy by action should be brought to justice for the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and damage to the stability of the world and its nations. If their treatment mirrored that of the Nuremberg trials or the trial of Sadam Husane it may extend the time until other idiots abuse positions of power in this manner.

    It may also go a long way toward bringing stability back to the world. Making an example of those that will not fulfill the responsibilities of the Geneva conventions, created as a response to Nazi occupations of Europe, may send a chill to those others that fail to fulfill those responsibilities. And if they continue in abuse then a precedent will have been set as to how they too should be treated.

    Now I have no doubt that the "Christian Nations" will fail in this regard, just as I have no doubt they wouldn't if the victims weren't Muslims. I invite them to make me eat these words in a just manner.

  5. Charles Jacks from USA

    Even though the managers of this occupation specifically prevent the evaluations of metrics, it has become more than oblivious that in terms of electrical production, potable water availability, schools closed, Iraqi children at risk of starvation, Iraqi infrastructure destroyed, Iraqis with destroyed homes, Iraqis leaving the country, Iraqis tortured, Iraqis arbitrarily killed, etc, (name one), Sadam Husane was an amateur in comparison to Bush and his cabal of psychopaths.

    Some may say that the resistance couldn't be anticipated. But that's either more pathological denial or a complete inability to reach the first level of ethics: Do not do unto others what you wouldn't want done to yourselves. How may people would want their country bombed for months just to soften it up prior to a roughshod invasion? How many, and lets be honest with ourselves, would join a resistance group if our own country was abused like this. The very ones that would should have known better, The very ones that would should be the very ones to understand how to get the US out of this situation.

  6. Zainon from USA

    Gimme a break, George! Those "scared american kids" are carrying out their "grown-ups" orders to commit genocide against Iraqis. Wake up, George! What you fail to realize is the depth of "the white house" peeve that oil and gas and diamonds are in Muslim lands.

    You are right though that our Prophet (saw) would weep. In fact, according to several of our centuries old Hadiths, he did weep when he was alive while giving warnings that his people would be displaced from their own lands. He warned of this great Fitnah to befall upon his ummah. And no, Fitnah is not civil war, a deliberate or unintentional mistranslation that's going around. Fitnah is the action to cause strive. Fitnah is an insinuation by a third party to cause strive. And the time will come when Muslims will overcome the Fitnah and unite as we have been told of the outcome.

  7. George from USA

    Those "Scared American kids" are the only ones standing between Muslim killing Muslim genocide.

    Those "Scared American kids" overthrew a brutal dictator and his to psychotic bestial sons.

    What America failed to realize was the depth of the hatred of the Sunni and Shia muslims. America thought that once the Shia were free of the boot of the Sunni dictator a reconciliation would be possible. Unfortunately the Al Quaeda who are best at killing innocent women and children rather than face the Scared American kids succeeded in wearing down Shia patience with the destruction of the Mosque.

    The "Scared American kids have given Iraq a chance for a better life but unfortunately the Sunni lust for power remains and the Shia will never return to the days of Sadam.

    Bottom line - The majority of the people of Iraq want to live in peace but the insurgents and Al Quaeda do not want them to have that opportunity.

    It is too bad that religion which should unite people seems to be a divider. Catholic against Protestant, Shia against Sunni, Jews against Muslim.

    From what I read Muhammad PBUH) was a uniter. He would weep at what is going on in the Muslim world today. Both in Iraq and Palestine.

    I believe, in the end, Iraq will become a more independent country. Already the Sunni have had their fill of Alquaeda.

    Iraq is in God's hands and those people have suffered enough from war. I hope the surge of the Scared American kids works in destroying those who want to see Iraq fall into chaos.

    Because it is those Scared American kids that are keeping any semblance of order in Iraq right now.