Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Waging a War that has Already been Lost

why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?

e.e. cummings

The death tolls are rising on all sides. It’s likely now that more American soldiers have died in post-victory Iraq than died during combat. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in the latest phase of what is a decades long war, according to iraqibodycount.net, is anywhere between six and eight thousand. But who’s counting anyway.

Following the events of September 11 the New York Times carried a daily tabulation of the trade center body count. It also included pictures and brief, personal bios of those who tragically lost their lives. Iraqi civilians who, we are also told have died in the name of freedom and liberty, are unlikely even to receive a proper burial. At best, if their bodies are still intact, they?ll be left to rot in the desert sun.

That the United States is responsible for orchestrating such a massacre at the same time misleading millions of global citizens into believing that such a war is justified is a crime we have not yet begun to fathom.

John McCain writes in the Sunday Washington Post that, “a forced U.S. retreat from Iraq would be the most serious American defeat since Vietnam.”

And he continues, “America’s mission in Iraq is too important to fail. Given the stakes, we cannot launch this ‘generational commitment’ to changing the Middle East on the cheap. The administration should level with the American people about the cost and commitment required to transform Iraq.”

It’s a catch-22. America’s mission in Iraq is too important to fail. It is by right (God-given) infallible. If it were to fail the fate of civilization itself would hang in the balance. Such a specter is unimaginable. So we continue to wage war, a war that has already been lost.

To retreat would be to acknowledge defeat. It would also mean recognizing the limits of unbridled military force as a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. What good is the worlds most powerful military machine when the cause of war, the reason for risking your life, is so convoluted and unclear that it becomes harder and harder to wake up in the morning and don your fatigues?

McCain makes a number of unruly assumptions in his column. He refers to the reordering of the Middle East as a ?generational commitment.? It’s unclear which generation he’s referring to (the greatest? Definitely not gen-x, given that we?re too distracted and unaware of what’s going on to make an informed decision.) I don’t know if the next generation, that is the one after gen-x has been named, but maybe that’s the one McCain is referring to. If that’s the case they?d probably thank us not now but in the future if we admitted defeat and opted for a different kind of relationship with the rest of the world.

But we can’t have another Vietnam. So we must commit more troops, more dollars, and more resources in order to secure Iraq. We must fight harder, “we must win.” This means being frank with the American people. Telling them the truth, acknowledging that things may be a little more difficult than previously imagined.

This means telling the families of active soldiers that their sons and fathers might not return. It means telling working families, students, and the retired that they’ll have to cough up a bit more of their meager earnings in order to fund the liberation of Iraq.

It means calling up more reserves maybe even re-instituting the draft. Or as McCain puts it, “Americans must understand how important this mission is and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve it.” In order to sacrifice however, what is at stake must be understood. Are Americans willing and ready to prostrate themselves before their commander in chief in order to achieve victory in Iraq? And what would victory bring?

There are farmers in India willing to ingest pesticides and take their own lives rather than succumb to the fate of agribusiness and what it might mean for a way of life that has been carried on for years and years. In Israel there are soldiers refusing to fight in the occupied territories because they understand the Israeli occupation as bankrupt and morally unacceptable, a policy that is not only morally wrong but one that threatens the very security of the state it claims to protect. In France the heroic Bove continues to defy the seemingly insurmountable corporate stranglehold.

And here in the United States?

No one has immolated themselves in front of the capital. No one has marched to the sea.

The so-called campaign season has already begun to overshadow the realities of war. One could say the meta-war has begun. The debate now is not about the actual war the one being waged every day in Iraq but rather about the merits of a war that is already over but that unfortunately has some unpleasant side effects.

As Americans debate the finer points of the latest round of medication and consider its discomforts (diarrhea, higher taxes, gulf war syndrome, more expensive gas, bloating ect.) the Iraqi people continue to wonder what liberation means.

ADAM FEDERMAN can be reached at: adam@incamail.com

 

More articles by:

Adam Federman is a contributing editor at Earth Island Journal.He is the recipient of a Polk Grant for Investigative Reporting, a Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, and a Russia Fulbright Fellowship. You can find more of his work at adamfederman.com.

Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
Samantha Krop
Questioning Our Declaration on Human Rights
Morna McDermott
Classrooms, Not Computers: Stop Educating for Profit
Patrick Walker
Today’s Poor People’s Campaign: Too Important Not to Criticize
Julia Stein
Wrestling With Zionism
Clark T. Scott
The Exceptional President
Barry Barnett
The Family of Nations Needs to Stand Up to the US  
Robert Koehler
Two Prongs of a Pitchfork
Bruce Raynor
In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth
Max Parry
The U.S. Won’t Say ‘Genocide’ But Cares About Armenian Democracy?
William Gudal
The History of Israel on One Page
Robert Jensen
Neither cis nor TERF
Louis Proyect
Faith or Action in a World Hurtling Toward Oblivion?
David Yearsley
The Ubiquitous Mr. Desplat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail