Absolutely Nothing: A Veteran’s Savage Indictment of the Iraq War
Tragically, all we’ve fought for in Iraq, all that 4,500 American lives were shed to gain, is on the cusp, potentially, of vanishing.
- Mitt Romney, “Ideas Summit,” 6/13/2014
All we fought for in Iraq.
All we fought for in Iraq is on the cusp of vanishing.
That’s what Mitt Romney says.
We fought for. We fought for. We.
Oh, so it’s we now, is it, Mitt?
I must have missed you over there, but it was a busy place. We. The guy who helped set up “pro-draft” rallies and yet somehow managed to avoid service in Vietnam is upset about losing what “we” fought for? We.
Yeah, fuck you, Mitt.
And you’re all welcome to quote me on that.
Somebody stepped into my office yesterday and asked how I felt about it. He wanted to know how I felt about “losing” Iraq.
How do I feel about losing all we fought for?
I don’t know.
First, I’m going to need somebody to explain to me exactly what it was that we were fighting for.
What was it? What is it that we gained, according to Mitt Romney? And what is on the cusp of vanishing? What is that? No, really, somebody please explain it to me.
Because I’d love to know.
The Wikipedia says Operation Iraqi Freedom started on the 20th of March, 2003, which is just another reason why you shouldn’t believe anything you read in the Wikipedia (don’t, just don’t). That’s not correct, the war began a day earlier. See, I was there on the night the war really started, at precisely 2200 hours, on the 19th of March in the Northern Arabian Gulf. I was there when US Navy SEALs and Polish GROM stormed the MABOT and KAAOT oil terminals a full day before Saddam Hussein discovered that his time was finally up. In point of fact, I had arrived there four months before, a few days before Christmas in December of 2002. From the day of my arrival (and before that really) to the day the war started, and for months after, I was a Navy intelligence officer working in support of the invasion force. There’s not much I don’t know about the events leading up to war and the aftermath of the invasion.
Well, not much except for that one little detail.
All these years later, and I still don’t know why.
Oh, I mean, I know what they told us, sure, Saddam Hussein attacked America on 9-11. Right? That’s what they said, that’s what the Commander-in-Chief told us. Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaida, remember? The son of a bitch and his stinking nation of terrorists attacked us. The Iraqis had it coming. And Georgie Boy was going to finish what his daddy started. Hooray! Right? That’s what they said.
Except those of us in the professional intelligence community looked at each other and thought, wait, what? How the hell did we miss that? Saddam and Osama bin Laden are working together? Buwah? But Rumsfeld, he had his own little extra-constitutional intelligence outfit staffed with his simpering cronies who he paid to blow smoke up his pinched grey ass until his colon resembled beef jerky and he sure didn’t have much use for us – after all, we were just the military he had.
Ours, as they say, is not to reason why, ours is to but do and die, right? At least that’s what Rummy told us and you know, you go into war with the Secretary of Defense you have, not the one you’d like to have. And if Rumsfeld says he’s got the real scoop, it must be true? Right? Sure, that justifies his contempt for us, sure it does.
Except, Rumsfeld’s little masturbation fantasy turned out not to be the case.
But hey, never mind that, Saddam Hussein was threatening us anyway, wasn’t he? Sure he was, in fact, that’s the first time you heard the phrase “Weapons of Mass Destruction” isn’t it? The bastard had nukes and germs and war gas and he was just itching to use them on America, wasn’t he? Heck we even had pictures of “mobile weapons labs” to prove it, isn’t that what Colin Powell told the UN and the world? And by damn Saddam had been buying Yellow Cake uranium from Niger, right? Colin Powell wouldn’t lie to us, would he? He was a hero, a general, he wouldn’t send his comrades into war on a lie now would he?
Except all that turned out to be bullshit too, and Colin Powell was either a dupe of staggering proportions or he was the kind of Soldier who would fuck his buddy right in the ass without so much as a reach-around and I’ll leave it up to you to figure which one is worse.
But by the time we figured out we’d been ass-raped by Colin Powell, we were shoulder deep in Iraq, Baghdad was burning, Iraq’s army had thrown down their weapons and taken off their uniforms and had melted into the population, Saddam had vanished and his sons were dead, and the President of the United States had already declared victory from the deck of an American aircraft carrier.
And so, the objective became … what?
Hearts and minds and freedom and democracy and nation building and magic bunnies who fart sunshine and rainbows.
Unfortunately, it turns out we’re real good at the blowing shit up part, not so good at the magic bunnies part.
Which in retrospect, shouldn’t be all that surprising – given that in order to build a civilization it helps if you actually have some vague familiarity with the people involved. Needless to say, we didn’t. And we didn’t care. To America, they were all little brown towelheads, sand niggers, raggedy-assed camel jockeys who ought to be grateful to America for burning down their shitty country. Sunni? Shia? Turkman? Baathists? What’s that? What do you mean they hate each other? They’re all Muslims aren’t they? They’re all Aayrabs, right? What do you mean they hate each other? And it all fell apart, disintegrating into insurgency and murder and bloody civil war – just exactly as anybody who actually knew something about the region and its people and its history could have told you it would. We lost less than a hundred soldiers in the actual war, the “peace” cost us nearly 5000 more. And the Iraqis? Who the hell knows? A hundred thousand? A million? It’s impossible to tell.
And it turns out that freedom and democracy and magic flying bunnies were as elusive as Iraq’s supposed WMDs.
So, what was it again that we were fighting for?
They had no idea what we were fighting for, those saber-rattling Chicken Hawks, the cowardly connected wealthy weasels who’d managed to avoid serving in their own war, who kept their children out of uniform, but just couldn’t wait to send us into one of their own making. They sent us off with parades and marching bands and cheering crowds … and brought the bodies home in secret, hidden away from the TV cameras and the public.
They had no plan and no idea what we were dying for, but they assured us what the warwasn’t about – it wasn’t about religion.
Oh no, sir, we weren’t fighting to eradicate Muslims, it wasn’t about Islam.
The Evangelical Christian religious extremists who started this war told us it wasn’t about religion.
Heh heh, riiiiiight. And Vietnam was really about containing communism. Sure.
Maybe they should have had Colin Powell tell that wopper to the UN, but he’d quit by then and was suddenly as invisible to America as those flag draped metal boxes arriving at Dover Air Force base in the middle of the night.
Americans who a few years before had been proudly waving their little flags as Johnny marched off to war were suddenly all shifty-eyed, they slapped a $5 dollar made in China magnet on the bumper of their giant gas-sucking SUVs, Support Our Troops, and with sardonically raised eyebrows complained to each other over the pumps about the immorality of a war fought for oil.
But that wasn’t true either, was it?
Iraq’s oil fields, the ones we fought and died to preserve on orders from the White House, the off-shore terminals the SEALs and the GROM risked their lives to save on that night back in 2003, the precious Iraqi oil that was going to pay for the war and pay to rebuild the country we’d blown up, well, that oil is nowhere to be found today, is it?
So, tell me again, what exactly is it that’s on the “cusp of vanishing?”
I mean it sure isn’t peace.
It’s not freedom for the Iraqi people, despite the war’s idiotic name.
It sure isn’t regional stability.
It’s not the end of terrorism or the near universal hatred of America in the Middle East.
And now that Halliburton and KBR and Blackwater and Dick Cheney have made their billions and cashed out, it isn’t even about long-term economic investments and American business.
Hell, it’s not even about cheap gas.
So, go on, enlighten me. Because even though I was there, I’ve got no goddamned idea what it is that we’ve lost in Iraq beyond the 4,487 men and women we shipped home in metal boxes, beyond the 32,223 wounded and maimed, beyond the trillions of dollars we spent in our rage and our drive for revenge and our lust for blood.
Today, John McCain and Mitt Romney and the rest of the conservative war machine are railing against the President.
McCain stirred from the yellow fog of his bamboo cage and proclaimed in his best Old Man Yelling At Clouds voice, “We won Iraq! Obama lost it!”
Really Johnny Walnuts? Tell me, what did we win? And what have we lost? Please be specific, because I’d really like to know.
We no more “won” Iraq than McCain’s own father “won” Vietnam.
McCain claims he “predicted” the sectarian violence now tearing Iraq apart. Really? Where the hell was clairvoyant John McCain back in 2003 when he voted along with the rest of them to send us into war? And later, where was his great predictive ability when Iraq began tearing itself apart? I guess he was at a Dixie Chicks concert, he must have been out in the lobby ordering a plate of Freedom Fries when his pal George W. Bush let Iraq disintegrate into civil war.
And so here we are.
The same old motley cast of characters, the warhawks and the chickenhawks and the billionaires and the simple-minded saber-rattlers and the same old hate-filled pundits, they just can’t wait to jump back into Iraq.
Mitt Romney, John McCain, one who never served and one who damned well ought to know better, men who both wanted to be President of the United States and who both lost to Barack Obama, they just can’t wait to send other people’s kids back into the meat grinder.
Here’s my question.
Why, John McCain?
Why, Mitt Romney?
This time you fuckers goddamned well tell me why.
What’s the goal? What’s the objective? Is it to end terrorism? Is it to enforce peace at the muzzle of a gun? Is it it to make defense contractors rich? Is it for jobs? Or is it for magic flying bunnies who shoot rainbows and cheap gasoline out of their little assholes to the sound of Yankee Doodle Dandy?
Or, or, is it just because you hate Barack Obama?
That’s it, isn’t it?
You sons of bitches one and all, you simpering capering madmen, this time at least have the courage to face the cameras, to look into America’s eyes, and tell them that their sons and daughters will be dying because you John McCain, because you Mitt Romney, because you Dick Cheney, because you Donald Rumsfeld, because you George W. Bush you lying bastard, because you conservatives hate Barack Obama…and for no other reason.
Go on, tell us, go on. Wave your little flags and beat your fleshy chests, roll out the marching bands and tell us just how many more American soldiers should die. Go on, put a number on it. Ten? A hundred? Fifty four thousand? How many of us have to die? How many more bodies will it take to satiate your mindless hunger for blood and revenge? How many more American lives are worth your insane hatred of the president? How many? How much further into debt should we drive our nation, another trillion dollars? Two? Ten? A hundred? Put a price on it you insane sons of bitches, go on, give me a number, write me a check. Tell me how much you’re willing to pay, show me the goddamned money. How many more years? How many? One? Five? Another decade? Fifty? What is it? Don’t wave your hands and make some vague prognostication, give me a number, how many lives, how much money, how many years? You look us in the eye and you fucking tell us.
I’ll tell you what, let’s go back to Iraq.
Oh, yes, let us do that.
I’ll dig out my uniform and strap on my pistol and gird up my sword and ride into battle yet again.
Just so long as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and every single one of those powdered, Botoxed talking heads at Fox News are in the vanguard. That’s right, you cowards, you put on a uniform and you lead the charge this time around. The Koch brothers and Mitt Romney can pay for it, every goddamned penny, we’ll bleed them until they’re dry and then we’ll pull the gold fillings from their teeth to pay for it right along with the rest of their Wall Street cronies. You fuckers got rich off the last one, you can damned well pay for this one. And when you run out of money, we’ll take your blood, fair’s fair.
Strap John McCain into the cockpit of an A-4 Skyhawk and let him fly air cover.
If he gets himself shot down and taken prisoner again, well, you know what? Fuck him, leave him to the enemy because frankly his hate and bile and raging insanity have done more damage to this country than Bowe Bergdahl ever did.
The terrorists can keep him.
Peace love and understanding tell me
Is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way
War what is it good for
- Edwin Starr, “War” 1969