By Ruth Conniff
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To call the U.S. invasion and occupation “this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq,” as Obama did, is to really cake on the makeup.
Yeah, I watched Obama’s speech on Iraq, and I can’t say I was blown away.
First of all, to call the U.S. invasion and occupation “this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq,” as Obama did, is to really cake on the makeup.
And was it “a war to disarm a state,” as he asserted, or was it, instead, a war to secure oil, or a war to project U.S. power, or a war not of necessity and not of choice but of therapy for George Bush to overcome his Oedipal complex?
By the way, I could have lived without Obama’s saluting of his predecessor, who should be brought before the international criminal court for launching this war of aggression.
And I know every President, every politician, and now it seems every citizen must bow down to all the soldiers who serve in our military, but was it accurate of Obama to say that “at every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve”? I’m sure the vast majority did, and I wouldn’t have traded places with any of them. But what about those who followed Rumsfeld’s brutal interrogation orders? What about Abu Ghraib? What about the dozens of Iraqis our personnel murdered in detention? http://www.humanrightsfirst.info/pdf/06221-etn-hrf-dic-rep-web.pdf
Did that show “courage and resolve?”
There was something creepy about the martial tone of Obama’s speech. “Our troops are the steel in our ship of state,” he said, seemingly unaware of the fact that Hitler called his Panzer Corps “men of steel” or that the Hitler-Mussolini military accord was called “the pact of steel.” Enough with the steel already.
Obama also drew a straight line from the War of Independence to the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, blessing every one, including Vietnam. “Every American who serves joins an unbroken line of heroes that stretches from Lexington to Gettysburg; from Iowa Jima to Inchon; from Khe Sanh to Kandahar—Americans who fought to see that the lives of our children are better than our own.”
Is that really why they all fought, even the draftees at Khe Sanh?
As for Iraq, Obama said that our soldiers who died there “gave their lives for the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries.”
The great historian Howard Zinn, who died in January, would dispute that claim. In the June 2003 issue of The Progressive, he wrote:
“Those who died in this war did not die for their country. They died for their government. They died for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And yes, they died for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the President. They died to cover up the theft of the nation’s wealth to pay for the machines of death.”
I’m glad Obama is ending combat operations in Iraq and getting most of our troops out of there. But he didn’t need to rewrite history in the process.