Wednesday, May 2, 2007
by Tom Engelhardt
"......During this grueling, destructive downward spiral through the very gates of hell, whose end is not faintly in sight, the administration's war words and imagery have, unsurprisingly, undergone continual change as well. In the course of these last years, the "turning points," "tipping points," "milestones," and "landmarks" on the road to Iraqi democracy and freedom have turned into modest marks on surveyor's yardsticks ("benchmarks"), not one of which can be met by the woeful Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The "magic hour light" of May 2003 has disappeared, along with those glorious photos from the deck of the carrier......
Looking back across the vast expanse of disaster that is Bush policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, "the Greater Middle East" (aka the oil heartlands of the planet), and elsewhere (including our own country), his was, in fact, a particularly chilling speech – a ringing reaffirmation that one war was so many too few; a resounding endorsement of what would later be dubbed by Centcom Commander John Abizaid "The Long War." Our president was already imagining an Orwellian future in which military power beyond compare was to actively remake the planet, cruise missile by cruise missile, under the banner of "peace." Above all else, his speech was a reaffirmation of an American "mission" in which time, maybe even all eternity, was on our side.
As it happens, those Pax Americana pipe dreams would never make it out of Iraq. That speech, suffused with George W. Bush's personal sense of pleasure, satisfaction, and all-American war play ("When I look at the members of the United States military, I see the best of our country, and I'm honored to be your commander in chief…"), would be destroyed by "all the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in the liberation of their own country." Put more precisely, it would be done in by a ragtag minority Sunni insurgency and a ragtag Shi'ite government that shared hardly a shred of his particular vision. Perhaps the moral here, if there is one, might be: Beware the man who praises himself and his nation too highly......
Thought of another way, from the moment those two towers came down on Sept. 11, 2001, our president and vice president have themselves been ticking clocks. Before their terms are done, before the clock runs out on them, they may turn out to be the true suicide bombers of this era. Already, they have managed to leave Iraq – a modest-sized country with an immodest pool of oil underneath it – in a state which we have no adequate word to describe, though when coined it will undoubtedly have a "-cide" at its end.
The clock continues to tick. By Jan. 20, 2009, who knows what destruction they will have wrought, what chaos they will have brought to our world?"