Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Twenty years ago

...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity...
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
I was appalled when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 -- they were without UN Security Council support, without Canada or Mexico or France or Germany or most of the other countries of the world, who refused to support so-called "preventive" war.
America had lost their minds after 9/11 and too many of them seemed to think invading Iraq was the only way to show the Middle East that America was really the boss of the world. 
A million people died because of that terrible decision. 
And the only ones who appear to be ashamed about it today are the people who said it was immoral and a mistake in the first place. 
Thank heavens for the accident of history that kept Canada out of it - luckily, Chretien was getting ready to retire so he no longer cared about the politics of America or whether Britain thought he was cowardly. Chretien knew that regime-change was not a legitimate reason to start a war, and he said so, and he wanted to prevent pointless sacrifice of Canadian lives. 
Canada has never really thanked him enough for doing that, not the way we should have.
Many of the US left and right supported it. 
Here's a fascinating thread: And Parker Molloy has a great summary in his substack: Where Are They Now?: The Pundits Who Got Iraq Wrong
Where are they now? Mostly still churning out ignorant takes that will affect the lives of millions of people. One would think that cheering on the disaster that was the Iraq invasion would be a career-destroying mistake. As it turns out, the opposite seems to be true. 
Tom Friedman's "suck on this" line illustrates exactly the US attitude toward the world
There were a few Americans who opposed it, but their voices were unheard: Here is something I did not know - Steve Nash was playing in Texas at the time but he was one of the few who spoke up against the war: Over at Eschaton today, Atios writes:
It is still very rude indeed to suggest that support of the Iraq war should reflect badly on anyone. In fact, the opponents are still the weirdos who tend not to be consulted even now. The great tragedy of the Iraq war is that disgusting pig people get to remind brain geniuses like Jon Chait what they are responsible for.
Because this is what they did.
In yesterday's edntion of The Bulwark, a former soldier named Will Selber describes what he experienced on his tour of Iraq in 2006. 
I will not quote the worst parts, but here is the gist of it:
What awaited us in Baghdad was carnage. Not of the fast-paced variety. It was nothing like the storming of Normandy, the Tet offensive, or the initial invasion of Iraq. It was a slow simmer, punctuated by mass atrocities. During those six months, we saw all of the insurgency’s tricks: snipers; Iranian-designed explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); complex attacks using multiple suicide bombers; and extrajudicial killings, or EJKs—which is just a euphemistic acronym for murders, a term that saps humanity out of barbaric acts and is a necessity for militaries the world over.
Although my unit responded to car bombs and other high-profile attacks, we spent most of our time tracking the dead bodies dumped casually on the side of the road. Every day, we chronicled the remains of Iraq’s civil war. We tried to identify these bodies, determine their ethnicity, and find out where they were from. Often these efforts were futile. Eventually, it became dangerous. After watching us stop and try to identify the remains, insurgents began emplacing IEDs into the carved-out stomachs of their victims, killing scores of American soldiers.
We did this every day. Rinse. Repeat.
We watched in horror as Iraqi society devolved around us. Al Qaeda in Iraq would conduct a suicide bombing in a Shia neighborhood. Shia militants who had infiltrated the police would go into predominantly Sunni communities and kill people at will. It was common to find the dead bodies of children on the side of the road....
Back in 2004, I started reading a blogger from Baghdad called Riverbend, who wrote a blog called Baghdad Burning. 
Riverbend ultimately moved to Syria and then went elsewhere in the Middle East so she stopped blogging in 2013. Here is an excerpt from her last post, in April 2013 where she talks about her perspective on the Iraq war, then 10 years after:
Back in 2003, one year seemed like a lifetime ahead. The idiots said, “Things will improve immediately.” The optimists were giving our occupiers a year, or two… The realists said, “Things won’t improve for at least five years.” And the pessimists? The pessimists said, “It will take ten years. It will take a decade.”...
Looking back at the last ten years, what have our occupiers and their Iraqi governments given us in ten years? What have our puppets achieved in this last decade? What have we learned?
We learned a lot.
We learned that while life is not fair, death is even less fair- it takes the good people. Even in death you can be unlucky. Lucky ones die a ‘normal’ death… A familiar death of cancer, or a heart-attack, or stroke. Unlucky ones have to be collected in bits and pieces. Their families trying to bury what can be salvaged and scraped off of streets that have seen so much blood, it is a wonder they are not red.
We learned that you can be floating on a sea of oil, but your people can be destitute. Your city can be an open sewer; your women and children can be eating out of trash dumps and begging for money in foreign lands.
We learned that justice does not prevail in this day and age. Innocent people are persecuted and executed daily. Some of them in courts, some of them in streets, and some of them in the private torture chambers.
We are learning that corruption is the way to go. You want a passport issued? Pay someone. You want a document ratified? Pay someone. You want someone dead? Pay someone.
We learned that it’s not that difficult to make billions disappear.
We are learning that those amenities we took for granted before 2003, you know- the luxuries – electricity, clean water from faucets, walkable streets, safe schools – those are for deserving populations. Those are for people who don’t allow occupiers into their country.
Those who didn’t know it in 2003 are learning (much too late) that an occupation is not the portal to freedom and democracy. The occupiers do not have your best interests at heart.


Cap said...

Last week, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin's arrest on war crime charges. Now do Bush and Blair. Those two created the precedent for what Putin is doing in Ukraine. And when crime goes unpunished, it emboldens criminals.

Yes, I know the US and Russia don't acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ICC. But the countries that do have to enforce the ICC's warrants. Putin, for example, can no longer visit Canada without risking arrest. The same should apply to Bush, Blair, and all the other ghouls involved in the "War on Terror."

Cathie from Canada said...

Yes, I have always thought a good argument could be made that the US and Britain are guilty of a war crimes for what they did to Iraq.