The American military’s involvement in Iraq is over, with the formal ending of the engagement being announced yesterday by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at a very low-key ceremony at the Iraqi airport. Attended, by the way, by very few Iraqi politicians and civilian leaders.
This war – which cost 4500 American lives and 32,000 wounded, and over (a conservative estimate) 100,000 dead Iraqis – which forced us to spend $1 trillion, was one of the most shameful periods in modern American history.
This has to be said – as the corporate media, the pundits and politicians declare how proud they are of American combat troops while saying nothing about all the lies that the Bush administration pushed in order to invade that country in March of 2003.
In this celebratory atmosphere – we need to remind ourselves of the lies that got us there.
Lie No. 1: Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found.
Lie No. 2: Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks on 9/11. Totally not true.
Lie No. 3: the Iraqis had connections with al Queda. Totally not true.
For nearly 9 years, we ravaged that country. Remember the “shock and awe” that we were supposed to see? Remember how the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms, that the taking of Baghdad would be a “cakewalk”. Do you remember these as well?
As the last American combat troops leave, there will still be a few hundred to provide security, training, contract coordination – after all we have to do something with that huge, billion-dollar US embassy we built.
And don’t forget: there will still be thousands – yes, thousands- of American contractors there – most with guns in their hands, providing security.
Don’t forget this also: Barack Obama gained the White House in 2008 because he was “the anti-war candidate”. Do you remember that? The American people were so fed up with the war that they made him President because of his promise to end the “dumb war” – as he called it.
Finally, three years into Obama’s presidency and one year to the next election, the troops are out.
Most of the American people never wanted this war. Thousands, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against it back in the Fall of 2002 and in early 2003. Yet our voices were drowned out by the drums of war beating mightily. Huge protests were held all over the globe – to no avail. No one listened – no one in power listened. Which created years of cynicism by our educated citizens. The anti-war movement, barely alive to the end, was marginalized for many moons by the establishment and the corporate media. And the corporate mass media betrayed us, too – they carried the lies to us in an unblemished silver platter so we could gobble them up.
In fact, this marginalization of the movement, this betrayal by the media on the horrendous issue of the war is a good reason for the development of the entire world of blogs and alternative websites. The failure of the corporate press to critique Bush’s lies and their hand in the absolute destruction of the truth in the early months and years of the invasion and war were what led to the establishment of an alternate media world of the blogosphere. Media projects like the OB Rag got their start during this period of mainstream deception.
It was a shameful war. We never should have gone there with bombs blasting and tanks blazing. And now it’s over. Should we be celebrating? Jumping for joy? Our demands were finally “met”.
But it’s a different time; we still have the war in Afghanistan going on – and won’t officially end until 2014; because the country has coddled the super-rich for too long, our government is now broke. The same administration that rode to power on its anti-war stance now keeps the other war going and is cavalierly destroying our basic civil rights, it seems. So no, no celebration from this quarter.