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Apologies Now Being Accepted
August 22, 2003
By Mike McArdle

Well, it looks like the wimpy, irrelevant UN Security Council was right, the cheese-eating surrender-monkey French were right, the British people (as opposed to their government) were right, and those hate-America peacenik anti-war demonstrators were right.

The Iraq war has degenerated into a complete disaster, an utterly unwinnable quagmire that threatens to become a treasury-emptying ten year guerilla war that will kill thousands, and - as an added bonus - become a enormously successful recruiting device for the Islamic fundamentalists who want to drive both America and Israel from the Middle East. So take a bow, Susan Sarandon and Janeane Garofalo - you called it. You were right on the money but unfortunately the powers that be didn't listen to you.

But don't expect any apologies from the Bill O'Reillys and the Sean Hannitys and the Rush Limbaughs (the ones who, of course, had it totally wrong). Being a right-wing jerk means never having to say you're sorry, and the aforementioned crowd will now scream that the war just needs more time and that eventually Iraq will become a model pro-American Middle Eastern nation with a freely elected pro-American government. But they probably know that that is just an absurd pipe-dream, and that the end of this misguided adventure is likely to be even uglier than it is at present. They'll never say so, of course, because to admit that would be to admit that people like Sheryl Crow were dead right. And that is something they could never do.

As a truck bomb blew up a hotel that housed UN headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday the myth of "Mission Accomplished," already on the critical list, exploded at the same time. Frantically, the little man who is supposed to be in charge of the situation was dragged from the golf course to make an obligatory statement. (It wouldn't have looked good for him to be lining up a putt while the bodies were being pulled from the burning building.)

Rushed in front of a teleprompter he made a speech worthy of William Westmoreland during the Tet offensive: "Every sign of progress in Iraq adds to the desperation of the terrorists and the remnants of Saddam's brutal regime." Yep, he's still fighting Saddam, and now those blown apart bodies just go to show he's got him right where he wants him. And he continues to maintain the fiction that this is all about helping the Iraqis - the bombers are "the enemies of every nation that seeks to help the Iraqi people." But some people, like, for example, Helen Thomas, knew from the start that bombing and invading people was a strange way to go about helping them.

And people like Helen were loudly berated and abused for their warnings, as was Representative Jim McDermott who visited Baghdad last fall in an effort to mediate the situation and maybe avert war. Conservatives reacted with horror and indignation when he suggested that the administration would lie to create a rationale for the war if they didn't have one. But that's exactly what happened, isn't it ? There were the trumped up stories of weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be non-existent. There was the "yellowcake" from Niger that they slipped into the State of the Union speech knowing it was untrue, the drone aircraft that were going to drop WMDs on the US even though they had a range of only a couple hundred miles, the aluminum tubes that weren't really for a nuclear program. All were deliberate attempts to deceive the public into supporting the war in other words they were lies. But I have a feeling nobody has called Rep. McDermott to say that they were wrong to call him a traitor.

And as calamitous as things are now they may indeed get quite a bit worse since the neocon cabal that brought us the war is in no mood to start admitting that it might have been a bad idea. In the words of Robert Byrd, "it is becoming all too clear that the smiling face of the U.S. as liberator is quickly assuming the scowl of an occupier," and that scowl gives the terrorists exactly the recruiting tool they need to blow up more buildings and kill more US soldiers. But Bush and the neocons will never acknowledge that Byrd and Jimmy Carter and the others who opposed this travesty were right. So more US soldiers will die and be wounded, as well as more Iraqis and journalists and UN officials (if the UN doesn't simply terminate its humanitarian mission after Tuesday's bombing).

So an already disastrous policy will be continued just to save face. The classic mistake of Vietnam will be repeated. And we will be told the policy is working even though it is clearly not.

And those of us who saw how wrong this all was can only say "I told you so." But just like in Vietnam the killing won't stop any time soon and it will tragically be a long time before the day when helicopters airlift the last Americans from the roof of the embassy. And even when that happens the perpetrators won't accept the blame, they'll try to blame Natalie Maines and Jacques Chirac.

But by then everyone will know better.

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