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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


What just happened in Iraq (and in the Oval Office)?

Bugger all, that's what happened. Before getting to Obama's speech tonight, let's talk about the big picture. Obama calls it the "end of combat operations in Iraq." Really? Fallujah was a combat operation; that ended in December 2004, six years ago. No doubt other things that could be characterized as "combat operations" followed, but it's been a long time.

Why do I make this distinction? Because the U.S. admits that it's 50,000 troops will still be conducting "counterterrorist" operations, and isn't that exactly what they have been doing (using their definition of "terrorist," of course) for years now? When is the last time anyone who was killed by U.S. troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, other than those unfortunate individuals they concede were civilians, hasn't been labeled a "terrorist"?

As to the speech, what stood out for me were two things. One, Obama's descriptions of the war against Iraq. He did say that he and George Bush "disagreed about the war from its outset," but remember, he only did so because he thought it was a "dumb" war, the "wrong war at the wrong time," not an illegal or immoral one. That the U.S. didn't have the right to invade Iraq wasn't a consideration in his mind. The corollary of that opinion would, naturally, require labeling George Bush (and himself, for continuing to prosecute the war) as a war criminal, something else which was never a consideration in his mind.

What else he had to say about the war was equally interesting. He claimed it started as "a war to disarm a state." No, it started (ostensibly) as a war to disarm a state of its weapons of mass destruction. About the lies that led to that invasion, even if he wanted to call them "intelligence failures," not a word. He mentioned that "Thousands of Americans gave their lives; tens of thousands have been wounded." Not a word, however, not one word, about the million Iraqis whose lives were taken ("gave their lives" would be a gross disservice to what actually happened to them), or the millions more who have been wounded and pushed into internal or external exile. That was the second thing that really stood out for me. By the way, also not a word for the hundreds of "coalition partners" who also gave their lives.

There was a mention of Iraqis: "We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people — a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization." Why, you'd almost believe the Iraqis took a vote and invited the Americans to invade their country so they could have a "new beginning." Needless to say, no such thing happened.

This was straight out of the "White Man's Burden" textbook, Obama's skin color notwithstanding:

"As the leader of the free world, America will do more than just defeat on the battlefield those who offer hatred and destruction — we will also lead among those who are willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity for all people."
Of course, millions of dead and wounded and exiled Iraqis have lost their "freedom and opportunity," and the ones who brought "destruction" to Iraq were the U.S./NATO invaders, not Saddam Hussein or Al Qaeda or anyone else.

Obama turned briefly to the economy, and talked about how we need to create jobs, but where the money will really be going, and the kind of jobs he really will be creating, was pretty clear: "As long as I am president, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known." And the most expensive.

And what pro-war speech would be complete without the nonsensical justification of why soldiers fight and die:

Those Americans gave their lives for the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries. ...They fought in a faraway place for people they never knew...and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace.

...Every American who serves joins an unbroken line of heroes...who have fought to see that the lives of our children are better than our own.
That these noble sentiments have not a thing to do with why U.S. soldiers fought and died in Iraq matters not to Obama, no more than it did to Bush, or than it does to Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck, any one of whom could have given exactly the same speech Obama gave tonight.

And, while we're talking about George Bush, after mentioning that he had disagreed with Bush about the war (without elaborating as to how), Obama said this: "Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security." Really? No one? Please tell me how sending troops off to die on false pretenses, underequipped troops no less, constitutes "support" for the the troops? And how does killing people in country after country around the world - Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and more - improve our "security"? And how exactly does spending trillions of dollars on a war and driving the country into a recession which put millions of people out of their jobs and out of their homes demonstrate a "love of country"?

Update: Obama says "we have met our responsibilities." Really? How about the billions of dollars we owe Iraq for destroying their country and millions of their lives? No doubt we'll be meeting that responsibility about as well as we did in Vietnam.

Update 2: I should have made explicit something implied above - the "Bush Doctrine" - the idea that the U.S. has the right to attack any country who might be a threat to us in the future, regardless of the fact that such an attack is a gross violation of international law and the "supreme war crime," is now without question official U.S. policy.

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