Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Magical, Mysterious, Absorptive Alchemy of Success

Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is...
--The Rolling Stones

Regarding this Freddy Gray post at TAC, I wouldn't assume that today's stenographers of the royal court aren't correct about the perception, if not the truth, of current events as they will be viewed a generation on, at least here in the States. A stable, oil-producing Iraq garrisoned by US troops and an absence of the "whole cities lost" bogey may prove all this weary and distracted nation needs to shunt the horrors of the war into the memory hole (hands in pockets, looking away in affected nonchalance, whistling, surreptitiously sweeping the carnage into the chasm with the outside of our foot). Today's crimes will be tomorrow's heroic mythology. The day after tomorrow and the ultimate sentence of humanity is for suckers in modern America, where things must be compressed to conform to the timetables of individual ambitions.

Consider first the situation at the moment: over 130,000 troops (a number that should be routinely doubled to account for the mercenary force that exists as a sort of creative accounting dodge--of blood, manpower and legality) bogged down occupying a "liberated" nation where there is nary an acre sufficiently subdued to the point that troops can move about in anything but combat strength and where no westerner can expect to survive (at this rate it may very well take a hundred McCain years before a US troop can indulge in liberty outside the wire, another century and perhaps he can find a drink), a trillion spent and counting, more or less, and no exit strategy.

This is precisely the consequence of failure that was predicted before the invasion. Yet it is framed as success by comparing the daily blood loss against the astonishing levels of two years ago, levels that had to abate as the ethnic cleansing we at this point are complicit in as we literally wall Iraqis off from one another, ran its course. Having worn down the foreign terrorist element by arming our erstwhile (and future) mortal enemies among the Sunni, we square off against new ones (the erstwhile "liberated") among the Shia--with a whole new foreign element in the form of Iran (stop, take a breath), newly ascendant in stark contrast to its position pre-war; a nation with which we are now engaged in a pointless embrace of hostility that seems destined to end in a kiss of death. This Orwellian success is used to discredit those who predicted it, and rehabilitate those political figures who, it appears, have escaped justice for the crime of the century, even if they will spend their retirements in a sort of reverse exile, unable to show their faces abroad for fear of arrest (Don't it make you proud?). With success like this, who needs failure?

It should appall us that people are even allowed to venture this "twenty years on" argument, as if a generation of horrors visited upon Iraq will be vindicated thereby as the only means by which Saddam and his system were to be retired. Forgotten too will be the haste of the hysteric run-up to war, the increasing rigidity of the Bush administration's demands leading up to it revealing their fear of peaceful resolution of their trumped up concerns. Already we appear incapable of recognizing the straight jacket that the interwar sanctions regime placed us in along with Saddam. Already there is little cognition of the myriad possibilities unpursued by which Saddam may have been forced out, by which Iraq may have been allowed to progress on its own terms observing its own necessary logic. But that's always been the point. We've been engaged in the very costly process of ensuring that post-Saddam Iraq resolved on our terms, ultimately because of all that oil in the ground, since we liberated Kuwait. Tragedy plus time equals comedy. Failure plus time divided by denial equals success. Reality bites (the dust).