Friday, August 10, 2007

And all of it so easily preventable

Okay, so I saw No End in Sight last night (god bless the Laemmle!) and it was really fucking well done. First of all, because it’s about the whole war: the lead up, the occupation, the insurgents, and the cost in lives and dollars. Secondly, in spite of its ambitious subject matter, the film itself never feels like a shallow or cursory exploration.

The people who participated in the invasion and occupation who agreed to be interviewed for this documentary are clearly there because the failures of our government have cost them dearly. They were invested in success, both personally and professionally, and they want to understand and explain, if they can, how it all went so wrong.

Clearly, the blame for the insurgency and the collapse of the rule of law in Iraq belongs squarely on our heads.

First of all, because we never imposed martial law. And after the Iraqi army surrendered, our forces were under orders NOT to act as police or law enforcement officials.

“Fine,” you say, “let the Iraqi police enforce order.”

Except, of course, there were no Iraqi police in the days and weeks following the surrender. We told them to put down their guns and go home. We didn’t allow them to do their job, and yet we refused to do their job, either.

As a consequence, the subsequent looting of their capitol broke the spirit and the hearts of the Iraqis, and became the first large brick in the wall that now irreparably separates us and keeps us from winning.

Think about it. If an invading force took over our country, let’s say for a well-intentioned reason, like, for instance, ridding us of a leader that was a danger to us and to the world at large? Try to imagine that.

Imagine that the US armed forces surrendered to that army, and all the civilian law enforcement officials disbanded, even though our former leader, as a last “fuck you,” to us and to them, had emptied all the jails of criminals. Imagine that the invading army stood idly by while our most beloved institutions were looted, largely by those same common criminals. They stood idly by while thieves carted off Stuart’s painting of George Washington, and the Star-Spangled Banner flag, and the hat Lincoln was shot in, and even the freakin’ Spirit of Saint Louis.

Then they burned down the National Archives, and our precious Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights, and our Emancipation Proclamation were all gone forever.

While they stood by, doing nothing.

And then the guy who was in charge of their army went on tv, called us “Henny Penny,” and laughed at our losses and made fun of our misery.

Saying that we were just upset about a bunch of vases in a museum.

And then, while they refused to enforce the law, or claimed that their numbers were insufficient to do so, they disbanded our army completely and permanently. Hundreds of thousands of pissed-off and heavily-armed men and women, now unable to support their families, were told that they were no longer needed, even though huge stores of munitions lay all around our cities, completely unguarded.

And every single member of our former leader’s political party were told that they could no longer work for the government in any capacity at all, not even as a teacher or librarian, for the rest of their lives.

Sure, we’d be happy to be rid of our former leader, but how long do you think we’d remain grateful? How long would our good will last, as we suffered through month after month after month of no utilities, no security, and the installation of new leaders who encouraged the denial of our rights, depending on what political party we belonged to?

Okay, that last part we’re already experiencing now, but you get my point.

We would be rioting in the streets. We would rise against the forces of oppression and neglect, and assert ourselves.

Or, we would try. Mostly we would fail, because we are too fat and too scared and too selfish. Our Budweiser-swillin’, McDonald’s-snarfin’, Croc-wearin’, monster truck-drivin’ asses would try to fight the power, but because that would be too difficult, we would mostly be left to fight each other. Democrats would kill Republicans because of the crimes committed against them while the former leader was in power, and Republicans would kill Democrats because they were unhappy about being driven from power. Evangelical Christians would be killed because it was their faith’s fundamentalism that allowed the former leader to control us, Evangelicals would kill those of other faiths because, well, because some asshole would rise up and tell them that God wants them to.

And even those that were actually capable of fighting the occupying forces would not be able to make any real headway. They would take their beloved guns and their stockpiled ammo and make their way, like so many plump, waddling baby ducks, through the barricaded neighborhoods toward the centers of occupational power. But they would be gunned down on the streets before they could even do more than take out a few innocent civilians along the way.

Why? Because their numbers would be insufficient. Because the enemy would be more powerful. Because their position would have been given away by their bulky fluorescent rubber footwear.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

You are my new hero for this great post.

deadspot said...

It's worth pointing out that our forces weren't just standing by, they were also engaged in looting, and the pansy-ass embedded reporters couldn't be bothered to report on it.

There was one report on NPR the day after we entered Baghdad that casually mentioned in passing that soldiers were "taking souvenirs" from a palace that they were using as their headquarters: the reporter specifically mentioned them stealing gold and silverware, but I'm guessing that anything not nailed down was probably fair game. NPR yanked that story after the morning drive time, but they ran the stories about Iraqis looting for days.

In an interview months later, one of the embedded reporters talked about the troops he was with breaking into stores as they entered Baghdad, emptying them of snacks and cold drinks, and leaving the stores broken open for anyone that came along after them.

The soldiers were hot and thirsty and they wanted those snacks and drinks but the stores were closed, he said. And then he said that he knew the people back home wouldn't understand, so he didn't report it.

Well, fuck yeah, I don't understand. I don't understand how he can still call himself a journalist.

mrgumby2u said...

Great post. I've been trying to paint the picture just that way to friends and enemies who've supported this war, but never succeeded to present it as eloquently or with such detail as you did here.

Grant Miller said...

This is your best post.

Chris said...

Jeez, thanks for ruining it for me!

Seriously, if anyone ever wants to know how I feel politically, I'm gonna direct them to your blog. I know that's lazy, but I've read your stuff long enough to know it's a safe bet.

Skylers Dad said...

I like how you worked Crocs into the hatred.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Dr.Monkey: Thank you! I really enjoyed it when you got through customs under that guy's hat!

DeadSpot: So the "jounalist" will understand, but we won't? Why am I surprised that a member of the media would have such an arrogant attitude?

MG2U: It was the Crocs that got you, right?

Grant: Oh, Grant! Thank you! It's not like you always say that!

Chris: You do realize that all that stuff about the US being invaded was NOT in the movie, right? Because it's a DOCUMENTARY, right?

SkyDad: Always room for hatin' on Crocs.

Anonymous said...


dad said...

Great presentation.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Vikki, you are the wind beneath my wings. Amen, sister.

sv said...

Do I remember correctly that the New Yorker magazine reported that the Coalition Provisional Authority also layed off many Sunni infrastructure professionals soon after the occupation, further speading chaos through the ensuing power, water, and sewage processing outages? Nice job; when W said in his debates with Gore that he didn't believe in "nation building," who could have fathomed the extent of his disbelief.

Doc said...

Yikes! Double Yikes!


GETkristiLOVE said...

Great post, but the last line is the best.

Bubs said...

Brilliant post, just pitch perfect.

I have a couple of family members that are unhappy that I don't write more on politics. I point to blogs like yours as an example of why I don't write much about politics, because there are good people saying what I'd like to say, only much better than I could.

Anonymous said...

Don't know you...just blogsurfing and this came up. What a great post. You've hit it right on the head. I like how you point out that we'd probably fare even worse than the either Sunni or Shiite in our cause, suffereing for decades of McDonald's snarfing! Actually, if the situation were as you say, the fight would have been over long ago. As long as they kept the news feeds about Paris Hilton and Britney beaming into public spaces, most of us probably wouldn't much care about any sustained resistance. I'll be pointing people to this post next time I need to explain the the utter idiocy of what has transpired over there.