FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Legacy of the Iraq War

by ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ

In the United States, the most significant event of 2011 hands down should have been the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Iraq. But for most Americans, the end of this illegal and immoral war and occupation hardly registers a ripple.

The reason: the continued belief in American exceptionalism.

In the United States, only U.S. casualties matter. According to the Iraq Coalition Count, almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers perished during the war and slightly more than 32,000 U.S. soldiers were officially listed as wounded. No U.S. agency officially keeps track of Iraqi numbers.

Not counting “enemy” casualties seems to be the ultimate form of dehumanization (The non-governmental Iraq Body Count group officially lists between 104, 308 – 113,962 Iraqi documented deaths). That’s the point of a war; dehumanize and demonize the enemy. No need to count them because they are not worthy of being identified or even acknowledged.

In Iraq, we were able to witness, from start to finish, the ushering in of a preemptive and unjustified illegal war, by the United States, sans legal consequences for those who engineered this massive crime against humanity. We learned, during this same time, that society takes more seriously the lives of dogs (Quarterback Michael Vick was imprisoned for cruelty to animals) than the lives of Iraqis.

In the U.S. narrative – as repeated in U.S. media – this war was waged to prevent Iraq from terrorizing the world, never mind that all the “evidence” was trumped up. It is mind-boggling the notion of killing and maiming untold tens of thousands of Iraqis and displacing hundreds of thousands of them, and for U.S. politicians to continue to invoke notions of U.S. sacrifice and heroic deeds in the same breath. All this at the cost of a trillion dollars, not counting future costs.

This is how national myths are created. Coupled with the rise of “The Homeland,” since 2001, the United States now shares the ideological space of dictatorships: Everything for the homeland. That was a deft psychological maneuver. Despite being the world’s sole superpower, the United States, with colonial/immigrant roots, could not previously claim a “homeland.” Now, it’s the mother’s milk of politicians: Enter the Homeland Security industry.

This has led to the exponential growth of the U.S. military machine, for permanent preemptive wars to be fought overseas and at home. In fact, especially with the use of drone technology, the entire world has now become a battlefield, including the United States, obviating the need for trials, etc. The mantra now is that the homeland must also be protected with militarized walls and fences, border patrols, and drone technology.

This “need” to protect the homeland against evildoers at all costs gave rise to the unquestioned post-2001 logic of: “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” Such logic caused many of us to willingly sacrifice our rights and freedoms. If truth was the first casualty, the U.S. Constitution was the second. But this is not logic; it is evidence that the entire nation appears to live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Either that, or that it is soulless. Not the entire nation, but the merchants of war that have exploited fear and hate.

In the United States, for the past 10 years, the Black Man has gotten a short reprieve; now, it is the fear and hate of brown men, women and children that is driving this frenzied effort to “protect the homeland.” But there has been no reprieve because in the largest penal system in the world (upwards of 2 million inmates), the inmates are primarily black and brown. There is a direct connection between permanent war, “the homeland,” the expansion and privatization of the U.S. penal system, the criminalization of youths of color and the degradation of both the U.S. Constitution and human rights worldwide.

All is not hopeless. Domestically, the Occupy Movement is proof that the 99% are no longer falling for the logic of the 1%. And in Arizona, the ultimate symbols of “Homeland Security,” state senate president, Russell Pearce, has been recalled while his political twin, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is reeling from a series of Justice Department investigations that have found his department guilty of engaging in egregious racial profiling. His days are numbered.

In the bigger scheme of things, both are small potatoes. If the World Court were to affirm that there is no statute of limitations for starting illegal wars and indict those that engineered the Iraq War (The Bush-Cheney cabinet, those who made off with book deals as opposed to trials at the Hague), perhaps the world can begin to have a conversation about justice and “American exceptionalism.” It might even prevent further preemptive wars.

Roberto Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alumentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
July 20, 2017
Sebastian Friedrich – Gabriel Kuhn
A New Class Politics
Patrick Cockburn
The Massacre of Mosul: More Than 40,000 Civilians Feared Dead
Paul Street
The Abandonment: Reflections on James Foreman’s “Locking Up Our Own”
Kim Codella
A Practical Education
Frank Scott
America’s Trump, Not Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Clancy Sigal Goes Away
Don Monkerud
The Real Treason in DC: Turning Our Lives Over to Corporations
Brian Dew – Dean Baker
Are Amazon’s Shareholders Suckers?
Ralph Nader
Detecting What Unravels Our Society – Bottom-up and Top-down
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Covering Islam, Post-Jack Shaheen
Binoy Kampmark
Uhlmann’s Trump Problem
Patrick Walker
In Defense of Caitlin Johnstone
Barry Lando
Those Secret Putin-Trump Talks
Sean Marquis
Thank You, Donald Trump
July 19, 2017
Adam Ziemkowski and Rebekah Liebermann
How Seattle Voted to Tax the Rich
Patrick Cockburn
Why ISIS Fighters are Being Thrown Off Buildings in Mosul
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail