Ten Years Later...
...and, as round numbers such as 10 oblige us to write the usual autopsies of abortions like Iraq, we have to read and listen to everyone give their spin on Iraq on this, the tenth anniversary of the day George W. Bush gave the order to take back the oil fields that were rightfully ours.
The daily readership of Pottersville these days and the inexplicable turning away in droves of what used to be a readership of close to 1000 a day made me desist from my original intention of writing a larger, more comprehensive post. I have better things to do with my life than metaphorically pull out the rib spreaders and scalpels in order to transiently amuse or bemuse those who are either for or against the invasion and occupation. I, for one, am heartily sick and tired of casting pearls before virtually nonexistent swine.
We'd learned nothing from Vietnam and Iraq's invasion and occupation was one of the blackest days in the history of a nation already spottier than a Ralph Steadman cartoon. You don't need me to say that.
That's not to say we ought to turn our backs on these largely invisible and silent victims of our countless atrocities 6000 miles away. And what you do need me to say is the effect these war crimes for which many wealthy men need to be charged, convicted and executed for had had on the children of Iraq.
Everyone will have their own particular spin and focus on this tenth anniversary. More pragmatic-minded people will abstractly refer to the plunder of treasure, the loss of our international credibility and trust. Wingnuts who still think Vietnam was worth 58,000 American lives will insist invading a sovereign nation, smashing their infrastructure, disbanding their military and otherwise dooming these people to even greater poverty and privation than they'd ever suffered under Saddam was all worth the nearly 4500 American lives and (according to some human rights organizations) over a million Iraqi lives that were squandered.
Limousine liberals will hail the Chief who finally got us out of Iraq... after nearly three years in office and just before an election year. Satirists coming out of some self-imposed exile or another will finally think we've established some remove to make savage funny over the whole sordid ordeal.
But I'm thinking of the here and the now as well as what will become in the decades ahead as regards Iraq's youth. How can children healthily grow up in a nation that's one big war zone, in which death, decay and destruction in countless forms has become a normal way of life?
The children, our most precious resource as a species, are the very last considerations of calm madmen who plot war games and strategies and offensives and counter-offensives in harshly-lit climate-controlled rooms far from the actual theater of combat. In the massive geopolitical scheme of things seemingly propelled by the awesome juggernaut of the corporate interests of petroleum cartels, who cares about a few thousand collateral damages that we, as Rumsfeld once callously told us, don't bother to count?
No one ever truly gets used to war because war is at once a natural yet an unnatural state of human affairs. Sure, we've been waging war on each other since one tribe of cavemen decided the other tribe's caves and hunting grounds were more desirable than their own. But no one gets used to war, particularly children who rightly expect a happy world of classrooms and playgrounds and lots of friends.
No one gets used to war. We merely adapt and are eventually warped by it. And none are more warped by it than those members of human society who are the least psychologically equipped to do so: The children.
What will they turn into? Militants, terrorists? It would be fatuous to reasonably expect them to not harbor a burning hatred of the United States after we'd used their nation as a blood-soaked excuse to bloat private industry, a private industry that had once held such sway over Congress that our usually slothful legislative body rushed through its hallowed halls a measure allowing 363 tons of cash shrink-wrapped in bricks of thousand dollar bills and loaded on pallets to be dropped in a war zone because they had to get paid now.
These war-warped children will grow up with a keen sense of their own nation's history as surely as African American children grow up learning of their forbears' slave status. They will grow learning how George W. Bush tried to rush elections and a Potemkin village illusion of political and economic normalcy in early 2005 even while sectarian forces were literally tearing each other to pieces, during a long period in which our most awesome military couldn't even secure the single highway leading to the airport in Baghdad.
You would think an 18 year-old just months removed from high school and in their first day in Poli Sci 101 would know you don't try to set up a government or even hold elections before that nation has been pacified and the hearts and minds of the indigenous people were won.
But we persist in electing idiots who do not heed the lessons of history, the basic rules of diplomacy, the most rudimentary dictates of political science. Then, as that senior Bush administration official once infamously said, we get to sit back and watch the dumb show put on by these actors as they warp and alter reality and then create new realities. Then, when the whole charade of humanitarianism blows up like a prank cigar, we get to write blog posts about war crimes hatched and carried out by the very same people we insist on electing time and time and time again, infinitum ad nauseum.
But in the midst of these abstract and hugely important geopolitical and socio-economic concerns rolled out to us by Very Serious and Learned People, hardly anyone even mentions the effect these gargantuan games of shadows has on the most vulnerable: The children.
But don't listen to me. Do a Google search using the words, "Iraq, child" and report back to me how many pictures come up of happy Iraqi children.