When we can’t confess an awful mistake
We know about it, now, but I wish there had been disclosure then:
The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.
Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
- James Haught: A French Revelation, or the Burning Bush
This is what Nationalism does. It is what Religion does. It is the kind of thing you expect someone to say while they’re holed up in their mountain cabin during a tense, 78-hour standoff with FBI and BATF agents. It is what the President Of The United States did say, trying to persuade the president of another country to join him in an invasion.
At the time there were people who said; “This is another Vietnam”; they were called unpatriotic. Others said; “You better believe it, and by God this time we’ll win!!!” And Donald Rumsfeld said it would be a “cake walk” and that we’d be greeted as liberators, and Bush and Cheney held it aloft as Truth, and they assured Colin Powell that the intel was right, and they leveraged the respect that Americans had for him to carry the day. And it led to the same predictable morass of destruction, of poverty, of death and the real criminals getting rich from their safe enclaves, and America just generally coming out weaker and less respected on the other side.
And now the Iraqis want us out. All that blood, all that grief, and treasure, and opportunity, all that humanity; wasted. And for what? Is there a bell mournful enough to toll for this travesty? For the grief of the Americans, for the sorrow of the Iraqis, for the many other countries who must answer to their people for the trust they misplaced in… us? For the lessons of Vietnam that we clearly didn’t learn at all?
Go read Cujo: If It Were Done. Ask yourself: how can we inscribe the lesson so clearly that no generation will fail to read it? Is there any way?