The last 24 hours have been an emotional ride for me. It's no secret that I've opposed the action in Iraq since the Bush administration started publicly beating the war drums back in early 2002. One of my ongoing frustrations is with the notion, put forth by the neocon side of the world wide web, that the liberal cult (to which I apparently belong) secretly does a little dance as the casualty count soars. Ostensibly, we do this little jig because it somehow validates our opposition to the ill-directed bloodbath.
I can only speak for myself. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a veteran, I cringe with each click of the casualty meter, because I feel in my heart that this country was misled into the entire Iraq experience. Each groundpounder killed or wounded in Iraq represents a young adult life that was just taking flight. While it is true that (to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld) war is an untidy business, an illegitimate war that continues to send scores of young Americans home in "transfer tubes" or hopelessly maimed is simply criminal. The bottom line is that I don't need the unnecessary deaths of young men and women as some morbid vindication of my personal viewpoints.
Two points of frustration continue to nag at me:
- The absolute and total capitulation of the mainstream U.S. media to the hammerlock control of information being imposed by the military and Coalition Provisional Authority.
There is simply too wide of a discrepancy between what the CPA releases / media reports than what the "back doors" to in-country information provide us. By "back doors", what I mean are reports from overseas media, direct input from folks actually blogging in Iraq, beltway insider leaks to selected websites, and other communication means. The disparity between the media reports and the back door information is so wide that it's almost unbelievable. I like to think I'm a discerning reader, and that I can separate the wheat from the chaff on both sides, but it's getting harder and harder. However, it's clear that I can no longer take CPA press releases plastered with happy face stickers as indicative of any sense of reality in Iraq.
- The pandering nature of neocon talk radio and the brainless morons that participate in the maelstrom of bloodlust for vengence.
Yesterday evening, I was sitting in my car waiting for my wife to finish supporting the rebounding economy, and was flipping around the radio dial. I stopped on a station that was carrying Michael Savage's show. Now, I realize that Savage is somewhat to the right of Rush Limbaugh, but for chrissakes I just wanted to punch through the dashboard of my car listening to the simplistic shit that was spewing out of his and his listener's mouths. I swear that there was a collective IQ in single digits being displayed.
Conservative talk radio has morphed the mercenaries in Fallujah into servicemen, and then whipped the frothing masses into even more froth (if that's possible). They're making a theologically impossible linkage between al-Sadr and the Sunni uprisings. And instead of being taken aback by the river of blood that's developed, they want more blood to flow - as long as it's only brown blood, of course.
Listening to Savage, I came away with the distinct impression that there's an eye-for-an-eye (or probably more correctly, thousand-eyes-for-an-eye) culture that's developed in America which is downright scary in its intensity. At some point, the ringmasters (Savage, Hannity, Limbaugh) have to be held accountable and take responsibility for their very real complicity in this mess.
If the fog of war has muddied the waters of understanding developments in Iraq (as would probably be expected), the countermeasures of re-election propaganda have rendered a true understanding all but impossible. I'm not even sure that historians will be able to sort through the tanglement of conflicting information and make any sense of it fifty years from now.
To close the circle, then, I can assure you that absolutely no American I know "celebrates" the needless death of GI's in Iraq. On the contrary, we mourn them as some mother's son / daughter rather than as so much collateral damage in an untidy war.