The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth

American troops, guns, money, and blood bought us time and a seemingly graceful exit. That’s about all. Iraq’s government never gained legitimacy in the Kurdish north or Sunni west. Corruption and sectarianism reigned. Our strongman, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, terrorized Sunni protesters, and kept Sunnis out of government work. The country is again in danger of fracturing. The center didn’t hold—it never could. Iraq is a mirage, a post-colonial tempest, and its problems (and solutions) are Arab and Kurdish. Not American. Neither plucky Petraeus nor his surge-enthusiast minions could change that. Nor will President Trump or any of “his” generals.

Discounting or omitting Vietnamese (or Arab and Afghan) agency from our collective memory is problematic in the extreme. But today’s policymakers make decisions and craft “strategy” based on a distinct – if often erroneous – vision of the past. They deploy troops, drop bombs, and kill or maim human beings whilst viewing the world through the clouded lens of American exceptionalism. So where does that leave us? One can guess. Surge enthusiasts and Iraq-War apologists will once again wave the “bloody shirt” of American combat deaths, denounce perfidious “doves,” and charge full tilt into America’s next gallant, Mideast catastrophe. I can see it all so clearly, and shudder: for my friends, children, and for this world. Because no one seems to care.

Maybe that’s the point; Americans seem to prefer the optimistic lie to the ugly truth. Call it collective delusion or cognitive and moral dissonance. It’s the sin of self-righteous soldiers and uninformed citizens alike. Perhaps—when it comes to protracted, indecisive war—ignorance really is bliss. So smile, everyone, and behold the crumbling republic.

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