While You Were Watching the Hurricane: The Weekend in Iraq
The bombings in London and Hurricane Dennis knocked the war off the front pages again this week so let’s do some synthesis here:
Reuters offers a wrap-up of incidents in Iraqon Sunday at Reuters AlertNet:
“BAGHDAD – Four mortar rounds were fired at a police station in the northern Baghdad district of Aadhamiya, Iraq’s defence ministry said. Two people were wounded.
Five U.S. soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in southern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.”
Jon Leyne notes some of the oddities in Iraq with a touch of black humor:
“If the insurgents do not get you, maybe the traffic police will. At least, that was my experience in Baghdad.”
It seems to me that the psyops guys are getting a good handle on the message out of Iraq (even the bloggers) and we hear very little of trouble there.
With our shortened news cycles and infotainment riding high on the television sets the public has little taste for the ‘same ole’ death and destruction’ that passes for everyday activity in the new Iraq. A leaked memo (I wonder if it isn’t a very poll-driven leak) discusses troop reductions but a careful reading shows that we are talking about 2007 and to paraphrase a Pentagon spokesman – it’s far from a done deal.
But let us not forget that our Soldiers are striving every day, dealing with the heat, boredom, separation, punishing work schedules, IEDs, suicide bombers, nearly impossible jobs they didn’t sign up for, and the potential for having promises and contracts broken to them. Soldiers and Marines conducted patrols and combat operations on the Fourth of July while legislators went on vacation leaving a nearly three billion dollar shortfall in the VA budget unsolved. The world watched the Live8 concerts while men and women in Iraq tried to shake the dust out of walkmen and orifices. Back in the states, the injured waited in vain for the call for needed treatment from the VA and examined claims summarily dismissed as part of a business model that disenfranchises those that put it on the line for us all.
In Afghanistan, a strengthened Taliban made threats about a SEAL they may or may not hold and men as quiet about their activities as they are dangerous went about their business trying to locate their missing comrade. A half-dozen headless bodies turned up there this week, testifying to a job left undone as NATO follows the model of the British as they retreat to Kabul.
In all of this, I fear that the public conciousness of the war, its origin, and the ramifications teeters near the edge of the news black hole. The country seems to move to a discussion of the London attacks as if they occurred in a vacumn and there is little awareness of malfeasance leading the world to this point. Deaths of Soldiers and security forces in Iraq seem to pale next to that of London citizens as if they were two different species.
I think that it is vitally important to remember the past and that the origins of the attacks both in the West and in Iraq had to do with a questionable policy of our own. Robin Cook talks about the genesis of Al Quaedain the Guardian.
“Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.”
We would do well to remember how we arrived at the place where we are. It didn’t swell up from nature and wash over us like a hurricane. It was created and fed by policy, unexamined acts, and bad deals with bad men.
Failing to demand accountability for these acts and to examine them completely in the light of day will allow both the ideas and the idealogues to scuttle for cover and reemerge on another dark day.