I never did buy the WMD argument, and I'm not even sure how the idea that Saddam Hussein had some direct connection to September 11 got out there, but that wasn't it either. No, mostly I had it figured this way: We're a country hooked on oil. For years, decades, we'd been trying to placate the Middle East out of fear of losing that oil. Of course, we'd also done a few really fucked-up things to it in the course of trying to hang onto that oil, but, well, we're America! We've only been at this country business for 230 years! We make mistakes sometimes! We're still learning! Think of us as the
And meanwhile you had this region of the world where we were hated and part of that hatred, I believed (and still believe, to some extent) came from scapegoating by some of the leaders in that region. I knew that Wahabbism grew unchecked in Saudi Arabia because it kept young people--young men, I should say--from turning against their own kleptocracy. Can't topple the House of Saud when you're busy plotting the fall of Western civilization. (I also knew, but ignored, that the U.S. had traditionally turned a blind eye towards this because the Saudis are our friends, meaning, they have oil.) I knew that rank anti-Semitism, blaming the Jews for everything, was another way people in power in the Middle East held onto that power.
And I thought, what would tamp down this America-hating furor in the Middle East would be if things were better for the people who live there. People don't talk murder when they're comfortable. They don't plot suicide missions when they're enjoying their lives.
And I thought, well, isn't it convenient, then, that we've got this sanctions-defying despot in Iraq just sitting there, all but begging us to overthrow him, and wouldn't it be a Grand Experiment in Democracy if we gave Iraq a little makeover? Besides, that one son of his is really an asshole to women.
In other words, most of the neocon arguments made at the time, I agreed with. Because I was a total fucking idiot, and also an optimist. Little kids are often optimists, too--always looking forward to things--holidays and weekends and trips to the park and candy.
What I Think Now:
I think Donald Rumsfeld's an ill-tempered, overbearing, incompetent ass who shouldn't be allowed to plan invasions of Barbie's Dream House with units of Transformers. When you can't take criticism, any criticism, of your efforts, you can't fix problems resulting from your efforts. You're too busy pretending those problems don't exist.
I think the only way you can pretend Iraq is "working" or that violence is occurring in "minor" incidences or that any of this was a "good idea," for the U.S. or for Iraq, is if you ignore the people paying the price for this project. You have to ignore how many of them there have been and you have to ignore the decline in the quality of life and you have to ignore (and I think this administration finds it awfully easy to ignore) the violence and brutality against Iraq's women:
'Of course rape is going on,' says Aida Ussayaran, former deputy Human Rights Minister and now one of the women on the Council of Representatives. 'We blame the militias. But when we talk about the militias, many are members of the police. Any family now that has a good-looking young woman in it does not want to send her out to school or university, and does not send her out without a veil. This is the worst time ever in Iraqi women's lives. In the name of religion and sectarian conflict they are being kidnapped and killed and raped. And no one is mentioning it.'
No, why would they? Women aren't people.
Women activists are convinced there is substantial under-reporting of crimes against women in some areas, particularly involving 'honour killing' - there is a massive increase against a background of pervasive violence - and that families often seek death certificates that will hide the cause. In regions such as the violent Anbar province, the country's largest, which borders Jordan and Syria, there is little reporting of the causes of any death. And activists complain, in any case, that they have been blocked from examining bodies at the Medical Forensic Institute in Baghdad, or collecting their own figures to build up an accurate picture of what is happening to women.
Remember how enraged everyone on the right was about honor killings? And how feminists don't talk about them enough? Those were the days, huh?
While attacks on women have long been the dirty secret of Iraq's war, the sheer levels of the violence is now pushing it into the open. Last week in Samawah, 246 kilometres (153 miles) south of Baghdad, three women and a toddler were killed when gunmen stormed their home in an unexplained mass murder. Like Dr al-Tallal in Najaf, they were Shia Muslims in a Shia city. The three women were shot. The 18-month-old baby had her throat slit.
Those of you who care more about Teh Babeez than you do about women? THERE'S YOUR BEAUTIFUL MARTYRED ANGEL BABY.
I want to go back to something: This--
We blame the militias. But when we talk about the militias, many are members of the police.
And who trained the police? Who had to do a quick-and-dirty job of it because there wasn't enough time and weren't enough troops to do it properly? Who architected this lean-n-mean invasion that was bound not to leave enough time or enough warm bodies? Furthermore, which country's men still have such downright shitty attitudes about women, attitudes encouraged and nurtured everywhere, from church to media, from government to pop culture, that it is highly unlikely that even if there had been hundreds of thousands more warm bodies to train the Iraqi police with, things would have worked out any differently?
Right, that'd be my country.
Meanwhile, the internet's self-appointed Keepers of the Seriously Fucking Serious are seriously brainstorming about how to fix this fucking mess, right? Right?
Glenn Reynolds: "Border security doubleplus ungood . . . Bob Ney took money . . . Harry Reid takes money too . . . please, quit silencing Peggy Noonan . . . Air America bankrupt . . . uh, podcast . . . Sandy Berger . . . got a book about other wars I didn't serve in, either, here . . . ."
Pajamas Media: "There's that podcast again . . . vote on what label to use for the useful idiots who, despite their professed hatred of both major political parties, are nonetheless duped into voting for one or the other of them again and again and again . . . major hot stories: the November election, Foley, North Korean crisis, 'the Mideast.'" In fairness, "the Mideast" does contain a couple of links to stories about a BRITISH commander calling for the withdrawal of troops. I am sure this is a very silly and utterly unserious commander, because how else could this be possible? You simply have to love the British sense of humor, haven't you?
"The Mideast" is also your go-to source for an interview with Lynndie Englund titled, I'm so not fucking kidding about this, "A Soldier's Tale." It's like a great big "fuck you" to non-prisoner-abusing soldiers everywhere!
Hot Air: "Here's today's Vent, featuring Hot Air Gals Mary Katherine Ham, LaShawn Barber, Michelle Malkin, and Kirsten Powers, just like The View, but with more crazy . . . North Korea . . . Air America . . . tax-and-spend liberals--no, really, LIBERALS . . . ooh, I just hate Keith Olbermann . . . WAIT! What's this?
Both option papers would compel America to open dialogue with Syria and Iran, two rogue states that Iraqi leaders and American military commanders say are providing arms and funds to Iraq’s insurgents.
Bush isn’t going to do any of this, of course. Middle East democracy is the core of his foreign policy; it’d be like FDR repudiating the New Deal on the advice of a panel of economists.
So, what now?
OMFG LOL I HAVE NO IDEA"
The Corner: "Air America . . . Air America . . . send money to Aleuts . . . press passivity . . . press passivity . . . AIR AMERICA!"
Darleen Click: "Supreme Court buttons question . . . TREASON . . . video of the podcast referenced above and EVERWHAR . . . children need unstructured play time (note: I agree)."
So see, here's the deal: Of course a discussion on the pros and cons of feminine drag and its place, if any, in feminism, must seem "unserious" to people who are better at advocating fuckups than fixing them. Of course! I do indeed get that lip gloss is unserious. Do you get that pretending our fuckup in Iraq is going to do anything but haunt and threaten this country, our country, for years if we're lucky, decades if we aren't, is also rather unserious? Do you get that, in hindsight, maybe focusing on who's bashing the Bush Administration instead of focusing on who's driving around Iraq in Opels, shooting women and slitting children's throats, was perhaps unserious? Do you get that you are never to step to me with this "unserious" shit again? Of course I focus on the unserious; to do otherwise would require I face up to the fact that I helped create the intensely serious mess we are in today. I am unserious, but I do not pretend to be otherwise. It is the seriously unserious, the professionally unserious, the punditaciously unserious (AIR AMERICA!) with whom you should have perhaps one or two words.
Do you get that I am oh-so-fucking serious about this? Because I am, deeply.
UPDATE: The Committee for the Furtherance of Serious and Civil Discourse regrets the necessity of linking Mr. Clarke twice in one week, as it is a most unseemly and unserious act of the sort likely to inspire all manner of wild rumor-mongering upon the internets; nevertheless, this Committee is, by its mission, compelled to request that Mr. Clarke quit goofing around already and get serious.
UPDATE 10/20/2006: I can't shut up.