Buying The War

If you did not manage to catch Bill Moyers' documentary last night, you can watch it here. None of what was presented is new information, but it is still shocking to see all the ways members of the press dropped the ball on Iraq (or rather, picked up the ball the Bush administration handed to them).

In 1994, after the genocide occurred in Rwanda, I remember reading reports about what had happened, about how the government had broadcast inflammatory, anti-Tutsi radio reports which encouraged people to pick up machetes and view their neighbors as enemies who had to die, and I remember that I felt sympathy for the Hutus who had killed because they were manipulated by their government and media to commit unspeakable crimes.

While I felt sympathy for the ordinary people who committed extraordinary crimes, I must admit I believed that the sort of manipulations which their government was able to exert would have been impossible here. I mean, we have a free press and we, as a society, are all a lot more media savvy. Americans tend to claim a healthy distrust of their own government and elected officials and we have a free, independent press. The government could never use the press to manipulate us into allowing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people without someone noticing and bringing it to our attention.

Or so I thought. That was before September 11, 2001.

I am disgusted by the way our fear has been used (and continues to be used) to justify an increasingly expensive war which it now seems was started only because the President wanted to depose Saddam Hussein (as he said in July of 2002, the man did try to assassinate his dad) and which has no basis for continuing except that we have to finish what we started. But more than that, I feel an incredible amount of shame and guilt when I think of all the people who have died in this war. I think of all the Iraqis who are unable to live anything resembling a normal life and I think of all the military personnel who are separated from their loved ones. And I am so sickened that we aren't asked to make any sacrifices and that it is so easy for me to forget sometimes that the war is even going on. (But, of course, why should we make any sacrifices, why should we encourage our loved ones to enlist when the Presidents own daughters haven't done so? Regardless of what you think about royalty, it is nice to see that some people have a sense of duty.)

When we talk about the Holocaust, we always have the question in the back of our mind: how could people have let this happen? We all so smugly believe that if WE had been there WE would not have idly stood by while people were being sent to concentration camps and murdered. We say that ignorance is no excuse, that they should have known. So now, 62 years since the concentration camps were liberated, I find myself wondering what sort of questions and accusations our children and grandchildren will be levelling against us. How will we even be able to explain this to them?

Even though I know that I could not have stopped this war from happening, I still see blood on my hands.


Anonymous said…
I watched it too and had the same reaction -- I knew all those facts, but to see it in retrospect and from the mouths of journalists -- it was shocking.

While watching that I finally decided I would support impeachment.
Anonymous said…
I strongly believe that if we weren't there, they would be attacking us here. And, Saddam terrorized his own people for decades. Wouldn't it have been awful for us to continue to let him dig mass graves? No one ever said it was going to be easy, and no war goes exactly as planned, but if anything I think that the media has a strong liberal bias.
alimum said…
There is absolutely no evidence that the Iraq war has been responsible for the lack of terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11.

Yes, it is true that Saddam terrorized his people for years, but we have only made life WORSE for the people of Iraq (something I wouldn't have believed possible before the war). Deposing a dictator is a worthy goal, but it was not the reason we invaded Iraq. We were told that there were WMDs and that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the American people.

And, actually, the very same people who are now recommending we "stay the course" DID say it was going to be easy, that the war was only going to last a few weeks, and that Iraq's oil reserves would pay for this war. The incompetence and mismanagement that has been demonstrated over the past four years cannot be chalked up to the war not going exactly as planned.

I would recommend watching this documentary before commenting about the alleged liberal bias in the media. Also, you may be interested in reading this book Eric Alterman's book.
Anonymous said…
It's the same mindset that allows us to criminalize immigrants in our country, we fear differences. It's the people who tell me that the Patriot Act is only a problem for those doing wrong.

Great post.

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