“I have been meaning to write to you for some time, and the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war provides as good an occasion as any to do so. Distracted by other, more recent eruptions of violence, the country has all but forgotten the war. But I won’t and I expect you can’t, although our reasons for remembering may differ.”
--Andrew Bacevich, letter to Paul Wolfowitz, Harper’s magazine, March 2012
Dumb question: Why have the perpetrators of the immoral and reckless, trillion-dollar invasion and occupation of Iraq – Bush and Co. – not been tried for and convicted of war crimes? Why have the families of the dead not brought wrongful death suits? (I know, you can’t sue the government – but why the hell not?)
Ten years after launching this most arrogant and costly of tragedies, the perpetrators live cushy lives, lecturing, writing, probably backpedaling and self-justifying in one tedious book, speech and paper after another.
I guess the short answer to the dumb question is: that’s not how we do things in America – we value political continuity above all, by which we mean loyalty to the system and the continuity of the government in the hands of one party or the other; in the end, it doesn’t matter which, sort of like the old USSR, which had one party and made no bones about it.
But what of Jefferson’s advocating a revolution every 20 years?
Not so unrealistic, if the change is accomplished by voting out the keepers of the current system and replacing them with new, can’t-be-bought politicians who will lead the nation toward smaller, constitutional government.
A lock on power
But the two government-approved parties have a lock on it, and it is this lock that matters, not the sins of one party or another. So Obama pretends that the worst thing about the Iraq War is that he was saddled with ending it, not that it was the result of criminal behavior and lying to the American people about the most serious matters of state, blood and treasure.
How far we have come! Clinton was impeached for lying about sex. But Bush, Cheney, and henchmen start a war under false pretenses, JUST to apply the doctrine of pre-emptive war and demonstrate America’s post-Cold-War worldwide might – and never suffer, not even a single pang of conscience, for it.
Letter to Wolfowitz
I was reminded of the tenth anniversary of the war – how quickly we forget! – by an open letter, in the current Harper’s, by Andrew Bacevich to Paul Wolfowitz, who was, you will recall, one of the architects of the Iraq disaster, the Rasputin (or was that Cheney?) whispering American macho bullshit in Dubya’s ear, urging war as display of might and willingness to bomb brown people, who will now think twice before planning another 9/11. At least, that seemed to be the logic.
I remember a candid TV shot of Wolfowitz, looking like a younger Martin Landau and grooming his hair with spit just before a camera appearance.
Bacevich was a student and associate of Wolfowitz, who was a self-anointed Foreign Policy Intellectual, first at John Hopkins, then in the government. Paulie in turn was a student of Albert Wohlstetter, whose doctrine of American military power and preventive war he sold, first unsuccessfully, to Poppy Bush, then successfully to The Idiot son, who was ready, after the shock of 9/11, to lash out at any brown people, anywhere.
He had to sell it because, Bacevich notes, until Dubya & Co., America considered preventive war “reckless and immoral.”
Marching off to war!
Remember the drum-beating pre-war days? The photos of supposed bio-weapons plants (a lot of empty tubes), the yellowcake uranium fabrication, Saddam’s “ties” to al-Qaeda, Colin Powell playing the ultimate Uncle Tom and lying for the team in front of the UN with his little vial of table salt, the relentless fear-mongering by Bush & Co, and our so-called free press playing lapdog instead of watchdog? Good times, yeah!!
Remember the puny anti-war movement (millions rallied abroad, but they had no effect on the warmongers)? It was powerless to stop the juggernaut of militarism fueled by jingoism and the desire for vengeance-by-proxy (bomb brown people!).
The government held all the cards. It had a volunteer military eager to kick ass after 9/11, and a disconnected, distracted populace. No draft resistance (no draft!), no mass riots, no civil disobedience, none of the fun stuff that ultimately got the government to quit Vietnam. Never forget: Americans DIED protesting Vietnam.
I remember all the sunny predictions (which were nothing more than wishful thinking): the war would pay for itself with Iraqi oil; Americans would be welcomed as liberators (too bad that Sunnis and Shi’ites were too busy killing each other to notice); the transition to democracy would be smooth and simple – and peaceful.
What a fuckup. I can remember a brief interval when a nobody named Paul Bremer was running the whole country. This was right around the time of mass looting, including valuable antiquities.
And, wow, get this: there was NO exit plan for handing over power to the Iraqis. Hey, were just they going to magically start holding peaceful elections and governing themselves, like the colonists of 1776? Fun times, indeed!
Bacevich closes by asking Wolfowitz, ten years later, to explain “how liberation at gunpoint yield[ed] results that differed so radically from what the war’s advocates had expected?” A trillion dollars squandered, thousands of Americans and 125,000 Iraqis killed…and no wrongful-death suits? No war crimes trials? Not even in The Hague?
He says to Wolfowitz, “you owe it to your country.” I agree. In that spirit I celebrate the 10th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I re-post the j’accuse I directed a few years ago at Douglas Feith, another of the henchmen. It was called…
There’s a special place in hell for Douglas Feith
“I find war destestable but those who praise it without participating in it even more so.”
“Labor to keep alive in your heart that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”
Today's bile-producing topic is Douglas Feith. I know these facts about Douglas Feith:
He appeared on a recent 60 Minutes program, eminently rational and highly articulate, with round glasses and a neat coat and tie, looking a bit like George Will.
He was interviewed by Steve Croft in connection with his book about the decision to go to war in Iraq, the latest -- and by no means the last -- in a long series self-justifying apologias by the deserting rats who engineered the Iraq disaster and who will take no responsibility for it.
Steve tried to pin him down to admitting that he knew beforehand about all the terrible things that would go wrong (and actually did go wrong, all of them) if the US decided to invade. Feith said he had produced an equally long list of things that could go wrong if Saddam stayed in power.
He did not so much defend the doctrine of preemptive war as pronounce it, deciding, apparently on his own whim and that of his colleagues, that this was somehow a very well-established practice (instead of the opposite: a euphemism for aggression), that attacking other countries on mere suspicion is appropriate to these times, that you couldn’t wait around for other countries to do you harm.
This is new? Feith is as ignorant as he is arrogant, blithely forgetting how many times nations have gone to war preemptively. Remember Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan?
It’s ridiculous. Paranoia is not a basis for foreign policy. Why not just conquer the whole world? Then we wouldn’t have to worry about anybody.
Not missing any limbs
Here are more facts about Douglas Feith: he has a prestigious academic job, a nice salary, and probably tenure.
He is not missing any limbs, nor does he suffer brain damage or lasting head trauma, or excruciating rehabilitation, or post-traumatic stress syndrome, or a loss of his urinary and bowel function due to war violence.
He has never served in the military. That makes perfect sense. Another fucking chicken hawk. Too busy to “serve.”
I know the following about Douglas Feith by hearsay (it came out during the interview): he was a white-collar bully who concocted his own intelligence reports to justify war.
Things I do not know about Douglas Feith:
I do not know if he was picked on as a kid in the gilded Philadelphia suburbs of Cheltenham and Elkins Park and felt he had to get back at somebody by initiating violence on a grand scale.
I do not know if the girls ignored him, he couldn’t get a date, and now he gets off sexually by mobilizing enormous military power and thinking he is shaping world events in some positive way.
I do not know if he has even the tiniest spark of conscience about the catastrophe that he helped initiate and continues to justify. Maybe he’s just one of those aristocrats who’s totally divorced from the suffering of the great unwashed (which would be a tragic irony – his father was a Holocaust survivor).
I am pretty sure that Douglas Feith does not view war as I do: as a sort of "glory hole," into which young people are sucked by red-white-and-blue words like Duty, Valor, Honor, and Country... and which they are blown out the other side of like excrement, broken, maimed for life, psychologically scarred, or dead.
No, I don’t think Douglas thinks of war as a glory hole. I think Douglas Feith thinks of war as some kind of geopolitical chess game, where other, anonymous people get hurt and killed.
I wish we could go back to the old days, when kings and chiefs marched in front of the troops, putting their own bodies on the line. Then Feith, Bush, Rummy, Wolfowitz, Cheney (with his pacemaker amped up to KILL), and the rest of them could all go first and show how committed they are to this war.
But no. Politicians long ago figured out they could live a lot longer if they could convince young people to die for them.
I think it is one more example of the monumental unfairness of the world that Douglas Feith and his fellow cronies in crime were allowed to quietly creep away and masquerade as Foreign Policy Experts. In Japan, they might have committed suicide at the humiliation of their failure, not to mention their failure to prevent 9/11 (I’d watch that on the Internet).
No, there will be no seppuku or hara-kiri. But here's a punishment I envision as more appropriate for them, in addition to the confiscation of their personal wealth to pay damages to people killed or wounded in their obscene war:
I recommend that Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, and a whole lot of them be given suitcases of cheap clothing and dropped off in Baghdad, where they would serve as hospital orderlies for the duration of America's years in Iraq.
They will clean up the blood, vomit, filth, severed limbs, and other horrors of the war which they helped create. They will bury the dead. They will do this until America exits Iraq.
Perhaps we could make it a kind of Survivor game and spring for some body armor.
Douglas Feith, how do you sleep at night? Answer: by writing books to make it all seem so justified. You son of a bitch.