Thursday, December 22, 2011

why so serious, son?

"You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go 'according to plan.' Even if the plan is horrifying."

so, apparently the war in iraq is over.

you might have heard about it last week~~but then again you might not. the 'news' didn't get a lot of play in the press, and celebrations were muted.

VJ-day it was not.

"The last convoy of heavily armored personnel carriers slipped out of Iraq under cover of darkness and strict secrecy to prevent any final attacks. The 500 soldiers didn't even tell their Iraqi comrades on the base they were leaving.

"The fear spoke volumes about the country they left behind - shattered, still dangerous and containing a good number of people who still see Americans not as the ally who helped them end Saddam's dictatorship, but as an enemy."

officially, the last u.s. soldier killed in the conflict was a young man named david hickman, from greensboro, NC. speaking about hickman's death, and the outcome of the war, a friend said, “There aren’t enough facts available for me to have a defined opinion about things. I’m just sad, and pray that my best friend didn’t lay down his life for nothing.”

if we don't find horror in that kind of numb ambiguity, it's likely our souls are full of novocaine.

and sadly, plenty of facts are available. to recap, there was no link between iraq and 9/11. there were no WMDs. in fact, there was no justifiable reason at all to wage war there. in the end, there was just a surfeit of carnage. huge deficits. and a middle eastern country left wide open to the kind of threat we were warned to fear beyond all rationality.

did you know: the u.s. spent twice as long fighting in iraq as it did fighting WWII. would anyone like to make the case that saddam hussein was twice the threat of hitler, et al?

in lieu of that, it would seem that a langourous conflict in iraq, along with an endless "war on terror" was actually part of someone's mind-boggling plan.

and we haven't even mentioned afghanistan (aka, the place empires go to die). that plan, ten years later, is still reaping grimly, with no end in sight.

in both cases, despite all evidence to the contrary, there are still plenty of people who insist not enough time, money, and blood have been squandered. as if a pyrrhic nonvictory that laid waste to three countries (yes, the u.s. among them) isn't enough. what would satisfy them, one might wonder?

particularly since the u.s. is leaving behind a significant military presence, in the form of nearly 53,000 military contractors. plenty of money still to be made on that front.

to sum up, the u.s. spent nearly nine years at war with a third-rate dictator; hundreds of thousands of people were killed and trillions of dollars were spent. america became known for torture, prison without trial, and irradiating/strip-searching hapless air travelers.

for that horrific cost we earned the opportunity to sneak out of iraq under cover of darkness.

not to worry, though. it was all according to some sort of plan.

In the end, many of the departing troops wrestled with a singular question: Was it worth it?

Capt. Mark Askew, a 28-year-old from Tampa, Florida, said the answer will depend on what type of country Iraq turns into years from now - whether it is democratic and respects human rights.

"People are asking themselves: `Was this worth it?'" he said, speaking to his troops before they set off to Kuwait. "I can't answer that question right now."

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