Now it seems to finally be the right time to say it. America is turning the corner on our debacle in Iraq. The name of the corner:
A group of Marines (a squadron?) on their third-count'em-third tour of duty lost a corporal in a roadside bombing and apparently took it out on an Iraqi family or families, slaughtering maybe two dozen men, women, grandparents and children. Then the brass over there did us all the dubious favor of attempting to cover it all up.
Americans are appalled by this massacre but, unlike Abu Ghraib (how unfortunate that I can now spell that prison's name without checking) we don't think this came as a policy directive from above, in that case all the way up to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Gonzales, if not to Cheney and Bush themselves. But we aren't surprised, as this war turned dirty a long, long time ago, and we even feel a measure of sympathy for the soldiers who will soon be put on show trial, while their superiors and all the jerks who rotated them in so many times take a walk.
It's redundant to invoke the Vietnam metaphor, as only an infant or ideologue would miss the endemic parallels. This is the My Lai Massacre we've all been waiting for, dreading, wishing we were out by now. Because when Americans start seeing shameful images like this, and imagine the inflammation the massacre will bring to our hopes for our very own safety, we're deeply, deeply over it.
The American electorate isn't interested in any more Haditha's. Yet now the floodgates open. We kill innocent pregnant women. We fire into crowds in Afghanistan. Our journalists are being blown up. Even our "ally," the new Iraqi ambassador claims US Marines 'intentionally' killed his cousin.
Things are so bad in the Anbar province, "an insurgent stronghold stretching from Baghdad to the Syrian border," that we're sending 1500 more troops, not even close to drawing down. And Basra in the south, at one point under control, has now been declared by the new Iraqi government to be "in a state of emergency."
It's over and we got our ass kicked. I've always said that the absolute biggest mistake Bush made by invading Iraq was to expose our weaknesses, rather than broadcasting our strength. Yes, we're good at breaking a lot of things very quickly, and there's some valuable intimidation there, but after that we're exposed. It would take a national draft and a heckuva lot more body armor to cover for it, but we had that in Vietnam and it never turned the tide.
November 19, 2005.
That's your corner. That's when the murder spree is alleged to have been committed.
I'm sure our Presidente has been briefed on it long ago, right?
Hmm. According the new clue-shorted White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow:
Asked when Bush was first briefed about the events in Haditha, an insurgent stronghold in western Iraq, Snow replied Tuesday: "When a Time reporter first made the call."
Sure, they'll want to put this behind them quickly. Sure, at some point the scurrilous attacks on messengers like Rep. John Murtha by dangerous GOP nuts and demagogues will spiral down a dirty toilet. Sure, at some point adults will have to take charge again, ones who talk to us like we're adults, and know the news long before it comes out.
It pains me to say that it all starts here. We've turned the corner. We're the bad guys now. So we're gonna want out, more and more, faster and faster. Watch Murtha proven right and the U.S. public decides it's not worth it to stay in and try to fix it, even if we did break it.
It's not that we don't have the stomach for righteous conflict; this one was just wrong from inception.
Expect us all to be paying the price for decades to come.