#WARCRIMES & THE RECKONING

How many people have been negatively impacted by the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq? How many have been killed, both civilian and military, throughout the greater Middle East, Europe, Central and Eastern Asia, Australasia, even the United States, by both direct and indirect result of George W. Bush’s decision to topple the Baathist Saddam Hussein regime that had ruled Iraq for nearly 30 years? As a thought experiment, let’s attempt to balance out those incredible ongoing losses with the benefits of Iraq’s supposed liberation. For one, “the evil dictator Saddam Hussein…Hitler revisited” was deposed along with his porous army and political party. I suppose the “War Dogs” that corpratized warfare in Iraq and the larger War on Terror made, and continue to rake in, massive profits? I’m sure some of the largest businesses in the energy field have done well privatizing the 2nd largest oil reserves in the entire world? As far as I can tell the entire mission can only be judged a failure of epic proportions that will no doubt be recorded in history for the massive human toll it has, and still is, exacting upon the world.

But this is little more than my humble opinion, right? I mean, take a listen around the media in America and try to find any serious voices that agree with my assessment. It’s just down right un-American to judge the war and a living President so harshly, despite how apple-pie American it is to “tell it like it is.” About as close as you’ll get to a US corporate journalist denigrated the Bush Administration so poignantly is commentary along the lines of: “Saddam was evil, so that was a good thing but,…you know, Iran, Syria, Libya, the Arab Spring, al-Qaeda in Iraq, WMD’s, etc ad infinitum.”

This is not to say that true scholars such as Andrew Bacevich haven’t echoed my assessment, -or mine theirs- of the 2003 Iraq War. Or professional journalists like Jeremy Scahill at The Intercept, it’s just these voices, when rarely heard in the mainstream, are typically mocked by some counter-pundit like Paul Wolfiwitz while simultaneously undercut by a partisan ideologue who cannot go so far as to say they were utterly and completely wrong back in 2002-03. It’s going to be hard as hell to face up to the total mess of this war, however, like it or not, a reckoning will come. An epic failure such as it is will no doubt push back.

As a participant in the initial invasion in March 2003, I bear my own responsibility and suffer my own lifelong scars. When I deployed to Afghanistan in 2002, I held a deep belief that our mission to destroy al-Qaeda was a righteous one that was worth the sacrifice. I can say now without pause that the day I learned we would be refitted for Iraq while continued operations to hunt al-Qaeda in the AfPak weren’t fully realized, was the day I began to drift from righteous to dismayed. I was not alone in my early frustrations, yet complete dissent went against almost everything the Army. In retrospect, it’s easy to put it simple: We left Afghanistan and the hunt for those involved in 9/11 to topple a sovereign government, firing its massive military, thus birthing a well-armed, well-trained, bored, angry militia we named “The Insurgency,” that now calls itself the Islamic State or ISIL.

So yeah, we couldn’t have fucked it up any worse if we had wanted to. And to put it all rather bluntly, the ultimate responsibility for this modern-day fiasco falls upon President George W. Bush. Unless there was a secret coup d’etat that controlled foreign policy in 2003, then George W. Bush is the person most responsible for this disaster. Just on the orbit of US foreign policy, has there ever been an US President so culpable for such destruction and mayhem? Sure, WWII led the US President’s FDR and Harry Truman to order massive destruction upon Germany and the Empire of Japan. The difference in terms of culpable morality is stark.

Take stock in the Bush Administration’s initial term; 2001-05. It’s a fair argument to claim Bush shouldn’t be held accountable for the 9/11 attacks, despite the certainty of guilt laid at the feet of Obama had the enormous terrorist attack happened during his Presidency. Bush cannot be absolved the crimes associated with his torture/rendition policy or the unprovoked attack upon Iraq, a sovereign nation and member of the United Nations. At minimum, these calculated operations must not be ignored or go unpunished, if we intend to continue thinking of ourselves as a nation of laws, “the indispensable nation.” To simply claim “this was war, bad things happen in war,” only muddies the future of a reasonable world order. The United States has hanged many who made that claim, or that they were “just following orders.” Our credibility will be bankrupt until our government addresses these hypocrisies. Keeping our heads buried in the sand, so to speak, will only prolong the inevitable reckoning. History proves over and over this fundamental truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#AFGHANISTAN #IRAQ & #ISIS or #ISIL

In 2011, 10 years after we invaded Afghanistan in search of al Qeada, there were more than 110,000 US troops deployed in country, in addition to several thousand NATO coillition troops. The build up of troop levels following the election of Barrack Obama signaled to me the continued hold of influence the Pentagon had over the Executive. This surge in troop level seemed, and still seems out of character with the Obama Administration’s more intillectual based foreign policy? This was a strategy familiar to the National Security State: Leak information selectivly to the public via a cooperative media intended to put political pressure on a President to move policy in their direction.

“Like a bandaid over a bullet hole” is how military leaders on the ground, to this day, describe the NATO mission in that country. Let me make this clear for anyone not fully up to speed with Afghanistan or our 15 year current history there: No matter what we do in the short term, when we eventually pull out -as we most certainly will eventually- the country will quickly fall completely back into the hands of the Taliban or some other closely related Islamic group. 90% of the country, that which is beyond Kabul, are not, and will never be, in favor of Democracy as we understand it. I’ve been there, seen it first hand, and am telling you a truth our government seems incapable of admitting.

I try not to use the Vietnam War as an example of related cause, but the similarities are striking. After WWII the French decided to take back ownership of Vietnam only to find a nation with a new sense of independence, leaders, and purpose. Eventually France was humbled despite much assistance by the United States. In the wake of the French defeat, the United States decided to take a crack at installing our own, “suitable” political structure. No matter what we did or wanted to do, Vietnam would have eventually won its autonomy. What happened to finally end our struggle against the unstoppable force of a native people fighting for their independence? Congress turned off the tap, denying Ford’s request for an additional billion dollars to continue the fight.

Eventually Congress will shut off the tap in regards to Afghanistan. Either that, or other matters will force our hand. Afghanistan is not Korea. It’s not West Germany. It’s little more than a burning hole in the ground that we throw our cash into for incineration. We go there to die for a people who’d rather kill us. It’s the definition of a quagmire.

More on Iraq and ISIS later.

 

 

 

 

#WAR, #ECONOMICS & #AMERICA

There are few things that anger the disenfranchised, dispossessed or the marginalized more than those who hold great power, fail to exercise it, yet reap massive rewards. It’s been said that the people will tolerate a despot, fight for a king, crush a parasite. This proven fact of human nature goes against most of what we, as Americans, are taught and believe to be true. How else can we explain the reverence of a Napoleon, a Hitler or the brutal 50 year reign of a murderous Joseph Stalin? Not one of these characters ruled their states with the interest of the ordinary citizen a priority, to the contrary, yet they ruled, long after their true nature was exposed. The final Tzar of the Russian Romanov dynasty, Nicholas, was cloaked in immense generational power, yet in the dark hours of World War I, was largely coupe up in his great palaces, steeped in mystical ritual, his great wealth flaunted in the face of a people gripped in fear and increasing poverty. In theory, his power was far beyond anything Lenin or Stalin could ever attain, yet within a year his entire family was exterminated after several hundred years of rule. Erased.

I’ve seen war from the perch of a proud American. I’ve seen war through the eyes of a related witness. And I’ve seen war up close, the smell, the exhaustion, confusion and taste of it. I use the word “war” in each instance, yet in neither is the word applied the same. If you’ve encountered it in the form of a verb, it continues, forever, to remain so. War as entertainment has a purpose in culture, albeit it a nefarious one. Those in the business of making war must promote the fiction of it or face the elimination of it as business. Marching off for Boeing or Lockheed Martin doesn’t have the same patriotic ring as marching off to save democracy or vanquish evil. How many young men would sign up voluntarily to fight a war the Politicians and Generals have secretly come to realize is unwinnable? Who’s gonna volunteer for combat against an enemy that is only fighting you because you’re trespassing on their property?

I watched a decent documentary on YouTube last night called “The Fall of Mosul.” It does tend to oversimplify some of the relevant facts, however, in broad strokes, the filmmaker does a good job historically documenting the City of Mosul from ancient times to roughly six months ago. So much of human history is a part of the region, revealing, I think, much of the folly our current policies never seem to acknowledge, learn from or even truly comprehend?

For now I must leave it at that. My next column I hope to explain my assessment of our current state of undeclared war and how our current politics seems to either dismiss any discussion that’s “out-of-bounds,” so to speak, or betray a shockingly little breadth of historical truth.

Any and all comments are welcome and appreciated. Thanks