Wednesday March 20, 2013

Henny Penny, When the Sky Fell: 'No End in Sight' and the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion

Yesterday, the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, pissed me off more than I'd anticipated.

I think what set me off was this piece by Alex Pareene on Joe Scarborough, and the realization that the bastards got away with it, got away with calling us names, too, and now blame us for flag-waving our way into war when I was sickened by it all. Pareene dissects Scarborough well but you almost want a body blow. I remember seeing MSNBC at the time, and the American flag waving behind triumphant music and the Bush administration's chosen phrase, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, up front, and thinking, “This is a cable news show?” I was naive at the time. I'm so much older than that now.

I remember a few years later, in 2005 or '06, arguing with a conservative friend about Iraq, and he trotted out the usual right-wing line about whether I would put Saddam back in place if I could. I gave him a look. I said:

Would I put him back in place? Does that mean we get back all of the American soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq, and all of the Iraqis killed and wounded in Iraq? We get back the money we spent, and the prestige we lost, and the focus we lost, and we're able to spend that money and put that focus elsewhere? On our more immediate concerns and enemies? Is that what you're asking me? Would I make that trade? In a fucking second.

How did you celebrate the 10th? I got drunk and watched “No End in Sight,” Charles Ferguson's 2007 documentary, which is the best thing I've seen on our early involvement there. It's about all of the fuckups that led to present-day Iraq, which we no longer pay attention to.

What gets me each time I watch this? It's not the lies and misrepresentations that led us into war. It's not the fact that we spent a few months, rather than years, prepping for a post-war Iraq. It's not that we didn't send the troop levels the miltary wanted but sent the troop levels Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought we needed (SPOILER ALERT: he was wrong), and it's not the fact that ORHA, the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the organization designed to stabilize Iraq, reported to Rumsfeld and not, say, Secretary of State Colin Powell. We could have gotten away with all of those fuckups. But then the Bushies disbanded Jay Garner's ORHA and replaced it, and him, with L. Paul Bremer's CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Bremer ordered de-Ba'athification and the disbanding of the Iraqi military. And that was that.

A few quotes from last night's viewing, which I subsequently drunk-tweeted (see what you're missing by not following me on Twitter?):

  • “We're a platoon of Marines. We could certainly stop looting if that's our assigned task.” — Lt. Seth Moulton.
  • “It was just henny penny the sky is falling.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on media reports about the postwar looting in Baghdad.
  • “My goodness, were there that many vases?” --Donald Rumsfield, implying that U.S. media reports on looting were greatly exaggerated; followed by laughter from the press corp.
  • “Whether you were Sunni or Shiite, you were outraged about the looting.” --Nir Rosen, Iraqui journalist.
  • “And what followed was this pervasive sense of lawlessness that Iraq never recovered from. Guys with guns took over.”
  • “The Iraqi army was essentially standing there, waiting. They were waiting for an overture. ... No one did that.”
  • “I thought we had just created a problem. We had a lot of out-of-work soldiers.”
  • “I don't do quagmires.” --Donald Rumsfeld.

If you're looking for a gift for Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc., 10th anniversaries are traditionally associated with tin.

L. Paul Bremer, Jay Garner, in Charles Ferguson's documentary "No End in Sight"

Bremer (left), taking over from Garner (right).

Posted at 08:39 AM on Wednesday March 20, 2013 in category Politics  
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