Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A New Wave of Scathing Analysis on the Occupation

The invasion and occupation of Iraq constitutes one of the longest-running military operations in U.S. history. After such a long occupation, you might think that competent ruling classes might figure out a way to sweep things under the rug, cut off channels of public criticism, or lull citizens into sonambulism. But ours is not a competent ruling class. Despite occasionally giving way, say, to national elections or scandals de jour, for brief minutes, the war's wrongness continues to reassert itself as, in consistent waves, protesters, pundits, candidates and soldiers publicly condemn it. The periodic revelations of mismanagement and fraud chime in, resulting in a discordant symphony of condemnations, denials, humiliations, and tragedy. The tragedy part overwhelms the solidly underwhelming logistical arguments about how the surge is "working." It is as if the nation actually possesses a sense of right and wrong, perhaps a Christian cultural sense that the ends don't justify the means, and that our intentions--what is in our hearts--defines our moral culpability for our actions.

Chris Hedges cuts to the chase in "The War in Iraq Is Pure Murder," arguing that the war has damaged our souls. That's the difference between the suicide statistics, which are absolutely shocking, and other types of stats on the war. Think about what it takes to commit suicide, the unspeakable pain, and what such an individual action ultimately says about soldiers' relationship to the military.

Jim Lobe of IPS News writes about the report released last Thursday, a Senate Intelligence Committee report concluding that the Bush administration made claims unsupported by evidence concerning Iraq's WMD and al Qaeda ties. While this is generally an axiom on the left, and even among moderates now, the significance of the report, in my opinion, is that, for Bush's few remaining supporters. there exist elaborate explanations as to why the WMD and al Qaeda stories were actually true all along.

That Intelligence Committee report has also resurrected calls for impeachment. The always smiling, cheerful, and relentless Dennis Kucinich spent four hours on Monday night reading into the Congressional Record 35 articles of impeachment. Kucinich ran the gambit; emptied the trash if you will: signing statements, lying about Iraq, illegally spying on citizens and even election tampering.

And all this occurs against a startling new backdrop: A majority in the Iraqi parliament wants the U.S. out of Iraq.
A majority of the Iraqi parliament has written to Congress rejecting a long-term security deal with Washington if it is not linked to a requirement that U.S. forces leave, a U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday. Rep. William Delahunt...released excerpts from a letter he was handed by Iraqi parliamentarians laying down conditions for the security pact that the Bush administration seeks with Iraq. The proposed pact has become increasingly controversial in Iraq, where there have been protests against it..."The majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq," the letter to the leaders of Congress said.

One member of the Iraqi Parliament, Nadeem Al-Jaberi, even added "We are capable of solving our own problems." Granted, Al-Jaberi belongs to a Shi'ite political party, implying that the way of solving those problems is to scapegoat and murder Sunnis. But that outcome was inevitable the moment Bush, who didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shia, started making his feltboard case for the invasion. The paradoxical and impossible situation, and the death and misery both past and future, needs to be pinned where it belongs. Even if we can't throw Bush in jail after he leaves office, I'll be happy to see the relentless complications he faces with thousands of legal documents pending against him, floating around the international legal arena like paper airplanes in a jetstream. Maybe it will drive up his blood pressure, just be a thorn, an inconvenience. Well, something's better than nothing.

Don't let anyone fool you or take advantage of your good conscience to make you hate yourself for opposing this war. Every piece of genuinely convincing evidence on every major point goes our way. The invasion and occupation were wrong: strategically, pragmatically, morally, ideologically, in violation of good sense and good faith. By remaining persistent, and consistent, in the face of name-calling and more lying, we have won a victory even if we haven't stopped this atrocity. That victory is in momentum. In addition to using that momentum to get our troops home soon, we can use it the next time around too. And if we're really smart and self-reflective, we can use it to help us envision a world without war.

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