With the ten year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq looming, re-evaluations of that stupid and immoral adventure are dribbling out in the media. For the next few weeks, I'm going to highlight and comment on some of them.
Unlike some of the people writing this stuff, I am glad to have been part of a project, WarTimes/Tiempo de Guerras, that was doing its best to expose and oppose the phony, racist, and often vicious premises of the post 9/11 U.S. warfare state. You didn't have to have special information to know that crashing into Iraq wasn't going to be good for much of anyone except perhaps war contractors. You even didn't need special "intelligence" to know that Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" were a symptom of Washington's threat inflation syndrome. And though there was slightly more excuse for the Afghanistan war, it didn't take any special knowledge to recognize how resistant that corner of Central Asia has long been to foreign invaders with big ideas.
The anniversary has many writers talking about this in various ways. For example, here's Steve Coll, head of the New America Foundation and the author of several books about spooks and Bin Laden in the post 9/11 era, writing in the New Yorker:
Yes indeed -- daring to state that Al Qaeda is done for would be the most truthful, hopeful thing a U.S. chief executive could possibly do for the country. I'm not holding my breath, but count me in for the citizen's movement to demand such an admission.
At his Atlantic magazine blog, James Fallows ran a series of posts by William R. Polk who has been honing his understanding of U.S. foreign relations since service in the Kennedy Administration. As the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan, Polk is concerned with something "not necessarily understood by Americans." He believes we must recognize and stop
Stopping lurching about driven by fear is the prerequisite for moving this country away from its post 9/11 rogue behavior. It's a worthy goal. We need not forever allow our institutions to be deformed by barely rational and often inflated fears. We needn't live like a bunch of rabbits, scared stupid!
Nobody has a clearer view of what a putrid pile of nonsense the wars of the last decade have been than the military that has been tasked to fight them. Major Tom Mcilwaine, a British officer, writing at Thomas Ricks' Foreign Policy blog, is asking questions that have not been part of official discourse for over a decade:
Maybe it takes someone whose country has already lost an empire to have the clarity to ask what many of us DFHs (dirty fucking hippies) have been wanting to know for years. We long ago repudiated the idea that unconstrained empire was anything we wanted. Nice to see someone in the military coming up with the right questions. The soldiers need a "truth and reconciliation commission" if they are to avoid just doing this again when some U.S. administration dares to flex its muscles.
Photo: U.S. Navy by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup. Caption: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Robert Wolfe, security force platoon leader for Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, provides rooftop security during a key leader engagement in Farah City, [Afghanistan] Feb. 25.