Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Despite Celebration, the Iraq War Continues

By David Sirota, trutdig,com, Sep 2, 2010

U.S. Navy / MC1 Eileen Kelly Fors

Something about 21st century warfare brings out Washington’s lust for historical comparison. The moment the combat starts, lawmakers and the national press corps inevitably portray every explosion, invasion, front-line dispatch, political machination and wartime icon as momentous replicas of the past’s big moments and Great Men.

9/11 was Pearl Harbor. Colin Powell’s Iraq presentation at the United Nations was Adlai Stevenson’s Cuban Missile Crisis confrontation. Embedded journalists in Afghanistan strutted around like the intrepid Walter Cronkite on a foreign battlefield. George Bush was a Rooseveltian “war president.” The Iraq invasion was D-Day.

A byproduct of reporters’ narcissism, politicians’ vanity and the Beltway’s lockstep devotion to militarism, this present-tense hagiography ascribes the positive attributes of sanitized history to current events. And whether or not the analogies are appropriate, they inevitably help sell contemporary actions—no matter how ill-advised. As just one example: If 9/11 was Pearl Harbor, as television so often suggested, then American couch potatoes were bound to see “shock and awe” in Baghdad as a rational reprise of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

Of course, after we were told seven years ago that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” and after an historically unique conflict that has lasted longer than almost any other, you might think the press would start questioning the government’s martial stagecraft. You might also think all the comparisons to the past would stop. Instead, D.C. journalists and lawmakers are now celebrating the supposed withdrawal from Iraq, implicitly presenting the White House’s August announcement as the second coming of V-J Day.

The trouble is that the announcement is anything but, because the war isn’t even close to over. And we know that because the military is quietly acknowledging as much.

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