Wednesday, December 14, 2011

War is Over: Is Anyone Paying Attention?

The American occupation of Iraq is coming to an end, despite the carping of has-beens like Dick Cheney and John McCain. Strangely enough, that carping has pretty much been the only public discussion about such a momentous occasion. This is reflective of an American public who checked out on this war years ago, despite the continued export of dead Americans in flag-draped coffins from Mesopotamia. Despite the aforementioned moaning from high ranking Republicans, the end of the occupation is massively popular in this country.

But why is this majority silent? Most likely because this war has been unofficially acknowledged as a terrible mistake, the worst American foreign policy decision since Vietnam. It was the most defining aspect of the Bush administration, and the single biggest reason why Shrub has been the least public ex-president in living memory. Lest we forget, his administration fabricated evidence and lied to the American public while exploiting post-9/11 grief to start a war of choice that distracted the military from its mission to get bin Laden and destroy al-Qaeda. At the time, war hysteria reigned, and opponents, like myself, were a distinct minority. In the run-up to war any dissent or questioning of its motives was met with accusations of treason. I still remember having profanity screamed at me while I quietly held my sign (which read "I love America, not imperialism") at peaceful anti-war protests. I have a feeling that most of the people who yelled those epithets back then secretly believe today that the war never should have been waged. Most people are loathe to admit they are wrong, and so the silent majority today is unwilling to admit their change of heart.

There are plenty of unpleasant worms lurking under the rock of the Iraq war's memory, things most people in this country do not have the stomach to revisit. Let me just name a few, in case you've forgotten: massive torture at Abu-Ghraib, American soldiers sent into battle with inadequate protection (and then condescended to by Donald Rumsfeld for daring to raise the issue), the vice president's henchman outed a CIA operative in order to cover up administrative lies over uranium sales to Iraq, and president Bush proclaiming "mission accomplished" when seven years of grueling war followed.

That rock needs to be turned over, no matter how painful the memories. Now that old Bush administration hands have been rising out of the muck and returning to the public spotlight and advising Republican candidates for president, it is time to remind the public of their past malfeasance. More importantly, we ought to remember the sacrifices made by American soldiers (who deserve a true welcome home), and the sufferings of the Iraqi people, whom we still bear an obligation.

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