Tuesday, March 19, 2013

8th Blogiversary + Iraq War's 10th Anniversary

Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
I didn't start blogging until 2005; last month marked my 8th J's Theater blogiversary (I usually am deep in the vortex of teaching when the date rolls around, so I always end up missing it, but I will post a poem by Jay Wright, the subject of my first post, this week.)  In the run-up to the horrendous Iraq War, however, I expended screens of email, countless posts on various sites I belonged to, and time and energy attending and participating marches against what was, clear enough to me, a looming disaster. It was not just the architects behind it--George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Ahmad Chalabi,  Colin Powell, everyone involved with the Project for a New American Center and everyone clustered like a nauseating cloud around them--but the timorous and complicit US Congress, including all of the Democrats who cravenly or fearfully fell in line, as well as the still intellectually and ethically bankrupt, compliant, duplicitous US mainstream media and commentariat, all of them who cheerled this neoconservative debacle, from Andrew Sullivan and Peter Beinart to Thomas Friedman and Judy Miller, all of them, who enabled this catastrophe whose immediate effects, 4,000+ US and coalition troops dead, many thousands wounded and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or injured, sectarian lines more sharply drawn than when Saddam Hussein was in power and the decimation of Iraq's minority populations, including Christian Iraqis, trillions of US and Iraqi dollars flushed into the pockets of the military industrial complex, and the destabilization of the entire region (and consequent empowerment, of all countries, Iran!). That is to say, they have blood and lives on their hands, their souls.

What was clear back in 1999 and 2000, that George Walker Bush would be the worst president in my lifetime--I continue to believe that despite several nadirs in American leadership over the last two centuries (Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Rutherford Hayes, Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, etc.), W Bush will never be matched again if at least 50% of the voting population is even moderately sane--and would lead the country into certain disaster, the nature of which were not yet known then but the certainty of which was as clear as the candidate's stumbling, hazy answers and demonstrably phony cowboy persona, as well as by the toxic political and economic records of the people gathered round him, took material form from the day he assumed office, after the Supreme Court's judicial coup. But even with the California electric blackouts and the Enron collapse and of course, the sort of horrific incident and its aftermath that would have sunk many a presidency, the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al Qaeda, not even I could have imagined that Bush would, on the flimsiest of pretenses, con the Congress, the media, and millions of Americans, into the Iraq War. But he and his gang did. His and his associates' neoconservative, libertarian-laissez-faire fantasies, which included pimping out the US military to get ahold of that "sea of oil," as Wolfowitz once put it, and imposing their failed Randian policies on the new, juy-rigged state they created, predictably turned out badly. Very badly. Very, very badly. Criminally, and criminally badly. But that not of single of one these criminals has served time in jail or even been tried for war crimes speaks volumes to how rotten to the core our political system and media are. That any of the war-cheering pundits, like Friedman or David Brooks, both of whom still pontificate from their perches at The New York Times, also were not cast into the void of silence in the face of repeated critical failure, also is a dead mark on our society.

Tom Friedman's infamous "Suck on This" commentary about Iraq

In part because of all of the great blogs and sites that preceded and then swung into action in criticizing the rush to war, and its inept and corrupt prosecution, or the ones that emerged in the war's run up and wake, I initially vowed that I would not focus on politics, except indirectly, and for the most part, especially during my initial year of blogging, I maintained that stance. But I stepped away from that stricture a while ago, and while this never has become a political blog per se, I realized during the final, awful years of the Bush administration, which included the coup de grace bookend of the bursting housing bubble and global financial collapse (thank you, W!), and during various moments throughout this current administration's tenure, I have spoken out here and elsewhere. (I have often thought back about my early support for Barack Obama, in 2004, when he was running for the US Senate, and how I based that in part on his strong, vocal anti-war stance. I heard him articulate in person his opposition to the war. Perhaps the Presidency does change one, and perhaps his critique of Bush was opportunistic and paper-thin, but it was convincing. He will never be able to convince me of the viability of his drone war, or his stalwart support for the security and surveillance state, or many other issues on which he has shifted considerably to the right since his initial run for presidency, in 2008. (I also have come to realize that were she to run in 2016, I probably would support Hillary Clinton without hesitation, despite how abhorrent and pandering I found her support for Bush's folly.)

Iraq remains a deeply torn, traumatized society and country. While we should be hearing about what is happening there on a weekly or at least a monthly basis, we hear almost nothing about Iraq beyond intermittent posts about bombings, political quarrels, and demands the US continues to make on Iraq. Very few of the war enthusiasts devote more than the most cursory space, if even that, to Iraq today, to the challenges it faces, to its people and their voices, their stories, their lives. It is just another thing chewed on for a period, while it seemed useful, and spat out, without any real concern for the ramifications. In a sense, the war--which I do not want to reduce to the status of an analogy--is a good analogy for so much of what elites and their enablers wreak on this society. Perhaps they do consider the impacts of their actions, and perhaps they do pause, if for a second, but then again, if one goes simply on their actions as opposed to suppositions about their behavior, they act and apparently could care less. Unethical barely scratches the surface of such an outlook and mode of operate. But that's where we are. Ultimately those of us who see through the BS, the lies, the chicanery, the gaming of the system, the cravenness, the corruption, the destructiveness, the looming disasters, must never be silent and still, even if our cries and steps lead us into what looks like a cul-de-sac, a tunnel, a void. And we must be vigilant to call out those who lead us down paths of destruction, no matter how favored or well-placed or powerful they are. They bank on our silence, and our fear, and especially on a combination of both.


  1. Couldn't care less.



    Unethical barely scratches the surface of such an outlook and mode of operate.