Afghanistan, American Exceptionalism, Britian, empire, France, imperialism, Iraq, Middle East, Vietnam, War
We in America are quite good at forgetting the past. Any past that implicates us as being less than wonderful, that is. I suspect other countries might experience some of the same thing, conveniently dis-remembering their evil acts.
Do the French still recall their contributions to the Vietnamese debacle that captured so much of the 50’s and 60’s? I rather doubt it.
The British, no doubt don’t spend prodigious hours bemoaning that their interference in Middle Eastern affairs in decades past has at least something to do with the current troubles of the region.
We here in America are no different. We tend to gloss over, most of us at least, our horrific treatment of American Indians and our imperialistic behavior toward Mexico and the stealing of their land. No, we “move on.” And in truth, there is something to be said for that too. After all, I had no part in the near genocide of the American Indian in their glorious diversity.
But, of course, that doesn’t mean that I should forget. For in the remembering comes the responsibility to do what can be done to repair the injuries.
We are in danger of forgetting about Iraq. Since some measure of calm has returned (meaning mostly that our war dead numbers have decreased to some “acceptable” level), we have largely stopped talking about it. The news outlets don’t mention it much. Afghanistan has leapt up the charts of public interest as the death toll there, (again in terms of American lives) has started to climb.
But people live in Iraq and their lives have been forever (it seems) altered by our decision to enter their country and upturn it’s civil life. Of course, to a degree, we don’t care about any of that. There is still in this country a contingent that fails to care, as long as American lives are not the ones lost. Iraqi casualties have always been hard to collect and estimates are wildly veering from one end to the other.
Mostly we see Iraqi’s through the eyes of soldiers who’ve been moved to help out some child or other who touches them personally. That makes good news and allows us the feel good moment where we can tell ourselves that our troops are “doing good.” They are, to be sure, doing their best, but they are sent there to kill, not adopt puppies.
I ran across the post today from one living in Iraq. It’s not a big deal, not so important a post. But it speaks eloquently to the day to day crap that people now endure. This new Iraq that we have created with our bombs. Not a place you or I would like to live in. A fact of life for them.
And we don’t talk about Iraq much any more, and when we finally get completely out, we won’t talk about it at all. Other than to shake our head that it hasn’t become the shining city on the hill we promised it would be. They just don’t want democracy it seems.
Just like the Vietnamese didn’t want it back in the 70’s. Damn stupid people. Too lazy and uneducated to know what freedom means. It had nothing to do with the havoc we wreaked, the lands we destroyed, the villages ruined, the lives distorted and forever changed.
We pulled up and left, and wiped our hands of it all. Not our problem any more.
We’re looking, getting ready, to pull the plug on Afghanistan now. You can hear the remarks, see the looks. We’re starting to emotionally disengage. Our losses matter, and they are getting way too high. Osama bin Ladin is no longer the rallying cry. Screw him, we’re getting ready to get outa here. We’re tired of dying and losing and feeling impotent and inadequate. We don’t know what is wrong with you, and frankly we no longer care.
Truth is, we are replaying a story that we have played oh so many times, more than these examples. We define lofty goals to cover our own singularly ego driven desires, we enter and shoot up the place. We install puppet governments, almost always comprised of people who have some powerful allies to now professional rape their peoples. They do it well. We can’t understand why they HATE US?????
No indeed we don’t understand, and we will never understand until we face up to the truth. We are no better or worse than any of the other imperial empires. We just aren’t as blatantly bloody obvious about it. We couch our blitzkriegs with flowery “freedom” words and esoteric goals of transforming lands into islands of prosperity. We lie, both to ourselves and to them.
I have no answers. You know better than to ask me for any. I just sigh as I watch this Afghani scenario begin to play out. There is not victory in sight, there is no reason to stay. We have not left the country better, just battered. And we will refocus.
Refocus without learning a thing, and we will soon find ourselves in another place in another time, promising freedom and jobs and equality and justice, and we will emprison, and practice no equality and no justice, and leave another land in smouldering ruins. Our OOPS factor is mighty big here in MeriKa.
They say China will soon overtake us and become the new bigger better best empire. Perhaps. But I don’t expect they will do any better with the crown than we have. There is just something wrong with having that much power. It corrupts. And somebody I believe said that. Absolutely in fact!