dr. elsewhere here
Just a thought on this distressing anniversary (at least to us, if not to King George, the sports fan
Let’s stop dignifying this messo’potamia in Iraq by calling it a war. What has happened in Iraq is NOT a “war,” it was never a “war,” and the only real “war” that could ever come of our presence there is a civil war that no one in this administration can admit, and that we should not be party to in any way, shape or form. Certainly not now, after all.
Instead, let’s loudly insist that this very undignified mess be called what it is, an invasion of a sovereign nation that has led to our occupation of that nation.
We invaded Iraq, and we now occupy Iraq. This is not a war, it is an invasion and occupation.
The only folks involved who have any right to refer to our presence in Iraq as a war are the Iraqis themselves. We forfeited that right when we determined to be the aggressors, raising our bomb-filled fists and screeching “THIS MEANS WAR!!” without any real provocation whatsoever articulated or proven in that “this.”
The implications of such a shift in wording are enormous for not only how the public responds to the situation (as if the public could be much more outraged if we called it genocide of Americans), but for how the debate is actually undertaken, particularly in Congress.
If Democrats insist on using the term occupation, then consider how difficult it will be for Republicans to address things like troop “surges” (what happened to escalation, anyhow?), Iraqis “standing up,” funding the troops (for an occupation following invasion?), and “success.” Many of the positions taken by the Republicans are instantly exposed for the ridiculous sham that they are, their insistence on “victory” and “winning” while avoiding “defeat” at all costs.
At all costs, indeed. Would you care to unpack the meaning of that phrase for us, Senators McCain and Lieberman, in real numbers, in real human numbers? And how about you, Blue Dog Dems
? And those of you, Red and Blue, who cower in the face of AIPAC
And speaking of anyhows, just what would it mean to win, anyhow? What would success or even victory even look like in this case? Would those flowers and chocolates and welcome greetings suddenly appear? Would the "insurgents" just lay down their weapons and wrap their arms around all our soldiers in one huge group hug? Would all the corruption vanish and all the criminals become Boy Scouts overnight, there and here? Would all the oil under their land be happily given over to our lusty consumerism? And would all that consumerism be miraculously translated into a saved planet?
Whose victory? Whose success? Who are the winners?
And, conversely, just how different would defeat look from where we are now? And who are the losers?
And why is is the press not asking these questions? There is so much talk about “winning” and “success” (though Bush did avoid the word “victory” in his breathtakingly brief speechlet today), but few politicians or pundits want to speak in other than abstract terms, because then they would be required to define these abstract terms, and their air-thin argument would be instantly as lost as the pseudo-war itself. I suppose such questioning would just be too stressful for our conscience-challenged press, though, wouldn't it? Those shiny new press room seats and all those cocktail weenies.
It might take a conscience, but it doesn’t take that many neurons to recognize that there is no winning
this occupation, and there is certainly no winning this war, whether in Iraq or on terror. Any sophomore’s knowledge of Viet Nam (are students even taught about Nam??) will recognize this scenario has defeat written all over it. Why are none of the media whores obsessing over this question? Please, ‘splain it to us, Mr. Politician; just how many more lives must be destroyed – American and Iraqi, there and here – before we “win” in this “occupation?”
And while we’re on the subject, we also need to stop talking about “insurgents.” These people are, by definition, resistance fighters
. Insurgents are, by definition, individuals who fight against an established government; there is no established government in Iraq, not one that the citizens fully recognize as independent of the US. On the other hand, a resistance is, by definition, a fight against an occupying force. This is no less trivial distinction, and it is also not unrelated to making the distinction between calling this a war or calling this what it truly is, an invasion and occupation.
And finally, still on this general topic, when will we get to the point where we return to calling torture torture
? Not “major organ failure
” or “interrogation” or public relations for a failed policy
, but torture. As if that were even debatable. Or even remembered.
Words; they matter