Eye on the Ball
[T]he use of chemical weapons was a war crime within a war crime within a war crime. Both the invasion of Iraq and the assault on Falluja were illegal acts of aggression. Before attacking the city, the marines stopped men "of fighting age" from leaving. Many women and children stayed: the Guardian's correspondent estimated that between 30,000 and 50,000 civilians were left. The marines treated Falluja as if its only inhabitants were fighters. They levelled thousands of buildings, illegally denied access to the Iraqi Red Crescent and, according to the UN's special rapporteur, used "hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population".
In a dysfunctional system nearly every participant is complicit in its actions, even those who resist it, because the system defines the context within which resistance occurs, and because those resisting often do not want to admit the extent of the rot. In the case of the criminals dragging America's name through the gutter, we now find dissidents ratifying part of their criminality in the rhetoric of repentant liberal hawks and quisling Democrats like John Kerry, who okayed a war of aggression and now lament how badly the war has gone--as if a war without legal justification, marinated in obvious lies, and thus plainly criminal from the outset deserved to turn out any other way.
Outside the professional class of nimwits that infest our politics, many good people also feel compelled to offer up encomiums to the bravery of our troops (the ones not using white phosphorus, torturing people, or flattening cities anyway) who are portrayed as heroically trying to do good in a no-win situation that they bear no responsibility for.
Bollocks. Reality check: before the war, upwards of 10 million people marched in the streets of the world in possibly the most stirring outpouring of human witness against an impending disaster in history. Aside from a sliver of Stalinist apologists, not a single person held any fondness for the Iraqi regime. Just as certainly, few if any of the marchers were marching out of concern that too few troops were being committed, or that the coalition needed to be broader, or any other tactical qualm. They were there for one single reason: this war was wrong. Full stop. And nothing that has happened since has challenged that collective judgment. In a word, the world was right. The wisdom of crowds, indeed.
Heroes are always in short supply, and in the case of our troops, the real heroes are those few who refuse to participate in this ongoing crime. The rest, good people though most doubtless are, are participating in an immoral enterprise, the only possible outcome of which is a loss of their humanity. We are witnessing that now. If the degradation that the Iraq atrocity visits upon America and its military makes the next imperial adventure less likely, then some small measure of good will have come out of it. But the likelihood of this happening is not helped by sugarcoating its essential criminality or lamenting What Might Have Been. As a spiritual teacher that war apologists profess to follow put it, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them."