It has been 10 years since the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that by now most know was a war for oil. Though difficult to look back on this decade, it is the ease at which we forget that condems suffering veterans to the shadows, Iraqis to a country in shambles, and leaves the American people vulnerable to future seductions of war-making.
I remember everything so well: where I was when bombs began to rain down on Baghdad and that paralyzing chill of death and shame. I remember the acute feeling of impotence at our inability to stop what many call "the war machine".
Months of organizing, demonstrating, staging sit-ins and direct actions, and even after the biggest global protest against war the result was the same: a bunch of oil-hungry neoconservatives, armed with nothing but racist rhetoric and lies, were dragging the country to war.
It was a feeling that the world no longer belonged to its people; that no one-- no politician and no major media outlet--had even a sliver of our interests at heart nor a shred of accountability. And it's worth noting how difficult it has been to regain any sense of trust in either after a deception so great. (To that end this video of Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights is a great breakdown of how outlets like the NY Times and major Democrats like Hillary Clinton were 'useful idiots' in leading the country to war).
Though we did not prevent the war, we certainly changed the national dialogue in the United States. So much so that in 2008 Americans elected president one of the few congresspeople to actually oppose the invasion. For that the anti-war movement can take partial credit. The rest is owed to former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and others for their award-winningly horrendous job of actually conducting the already illegal and immoral task.
Yet this is what leaves the bitterest taste in my mouth and what is the most worrisome. The fact that since 2003 many have turned against the war because it was poorly conducted, not because it was baseless. And yet for those paying attention, the two were never inseparable: there was never any plan beyond toppling Saddam and securing oil. But what does that disconnect mean for holding any of those who lied to the American people responsible? What does it mean for taking care of the veterans of the war, or for actually helping Iraq rebuild? What does it mean for the oil companies that funded Bush campaign and are now making record profits on Iraqi oil?
It is minimally comforting though enraging to hear accounts of those who were apart of the movement against the Vietnam War, that other unprovoked and unsuccessful endeavour of empire. There has never been an American apology to Vietnam, no one has been held accountable, and the effects of the destruction along with napalm and agent orange still plague Vietnamese society. Perhaps this is what we have to look forward to as the anniversaries of the Iraq War continue to pass.
Or perhaps this is just what comes along with being part of the sector of American society that was, is, and will always be against this and every war. It is our job to carry the banner of peace from one decade to the next, to have memory where others do not, and to strengthen movements in this country in efforts to one day prevent another Vietnam or another Iraq.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project
Francesca Fiorentini is an independent journalist and comedian based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Before working with War Times she was an editor with Left Turn magazine andWIN: Through Revolutionary Nonviolence, the magazine of the War Resisters League. She writes, produces, and directs the comedy video blog Laugh to Not Cry. Follow her @franifio
Add a Comment
Dear Reader: Please help us keep our comments section a safe space of respectful and healthy dialogue that furthers the work against militarism and toward justice. Comments will be moderated.