William Cook: Iraq: Seeking Victory in Defeat

By Professor William A. Cook
Special to PalestineChronicle.com

“Iraq will be a central challenge – perhaps the central challenge – for whoever succeeds President Bush and has to repair the profound damage he has wrought with a war that should never have been fought …” (Editorial, The New York Times, 1/13/2008)

It has come to this after seven years; the venerable New York Times, without acknowledging its own culpability in fermenting the President’s drive to war with its front page declarations of imminent threats from Saddam Hussein against America as reported by Judith Miller, finally acknowledges that this war “should never have been fought” and places the responsibility for its “repair” on the President that succeeds Bush. How righteous. How simply stated — “to repair the profound damage he has wrought.”

How exactly does this new President “repair” the lost lives of 4000 American soldiers and the devastation visited upon their families, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and children? How does he or she “repair” the broken bodies and tormented minds of those “wounded” in this war that should never have been fought? How does our newly elected leader “repair” the lives of Iraqis that have suffered in excess of a million dead, millions more forced from their homes and country, hundreds of thousands wounded, their homeland devastated, their lives lived in unending fear, years lost to aspirations and dreams?

How does this individual, thrust into office the day after the perpetrator of this havoc retreats to his ranch in Texas, “repair” America’s reputation in the mid-east? How does America turn again to its founding values when this man has mocked them and made them worthless in the eyes of the world, a deceptive sham used to propel an elite few to power with the full complicity of our once lauded free press? How does he or she apologize for America’s ravaging of Iraq? How does he or she convince the countries of the mid-east that we are no longer supportive of the criminal acts perpetrated against Arabs in Afghanistan, Darfur, Sudan, Somalia, and Palestine?

Is it too late to turn to respect for other peoples who live by other values, worship gods we do not recognize, seek goals we do not understand, dress differently, speak different languages, and live by philosophies we have yet to comprehend? Can he or she abandon Bush’s evangelical manifest destiny that requires America to force his reading of “God’s will,” that America is destined to inflict its monetary, Capitalistic form of Democracy on every nation on the planet, and find instead a humane compassion and true tolerance for those different from ourselves?      

How does America “repair” what “never should have been done”?

Who will the New York Times hold accountable for “the profound damage” “he has wrought”? Have they “editorialized” the absolute need to bring those responsible for this war, that “should never have been fought,” to account through impeachment? Have they held themselves accountable? Have they offered to the American people a sincere contrition for their culpability and restitution to those most affected by its devastation? Have they undertaken a true investigative reporting that would analyze how this war was foisted on the American people, who is responsible, who gains by such deception, what feigned “American” interests were deceptively used to bring this “war” that “should never have been fought” to reality, and offer thereby some protection against future betrayal by our elected leaders? Have they considered the words of our former finance czar, Alan Greenspan, that the “war” was about “oil,” and our soldiers served to make its availability to the transnational energy companies a certainty, a kind of “welfare” for the well-healed lest they have to “buy” the product on the open market and suffer less profit?

How does this new President seek victory when the “war” “should never have been fought”? Does “victory” exist for those who “should never have died,” for those who live the remainder of their lives without arms or legs or a sound mind, for the children of Iraq whose lives have been twisted by the awful sinews of sinister sounds, screaming missiles, and sonic vibrations, for the land of Iraq that is now devastated, a veritable monument of rubble, that proclaims our presence in a land where we “should never have been”?

What is victory in a “war” when the act of “war” was deception, a fostered belief in what was never true? What banners will proclaim our triumph in the caverns of Wall Street when our soldiers come home? What truths can they proclaim if the truth is that this nation suffered the consequences the lies its President and Congress and complicit think tanks fostered to enact their war, lies that led to death and debt?

Perhaps its time for the New York Times and all those who shoved this nation into a war that “should never have been fought” to take responsibility for the crimes they committed and foster instead a time of reconciliation and respect for both the Iraqi people and the American people. They have been the victims of this war, not those who deceived to bring about the havoc and suffering.

We cannot seek victory in defeat resulting from deceit; but we can seek retribution for those responsible and, with a respectful hand, go forward with the Iraqi people to bring about a new Iraq where victory will be defined by dignity and friendship.

-William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush’s Mideast Policy. He can be reached at: cookb@ulv.edu

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