The old Zen koan about what is the sound of one hand clapping does not apply here. Because I mean to convey an actual applause--consisting of exactly two hands clapping exactly two times. Not more. Because that is as much enthusiasm as I can gin up to mark the withdrawal of the last US troops from Iraq. A gaggle of diplomats, politicians, and military brass attended the obligatory "We're Leaving" ceremonies in Baghdad and listened to Leon Panetta, the third secretary of defense to preside over the awful war in Iraq, spout the obligatory lies for such occasions. About the high cost in blood and treasure (over 4,500 American lives and who knows how many Iraqis? The estimates range from over 100,000 to almost a million. Who knows?*) for Iraq and US, but "those lives have not been lost in vain." No? Then what the hell were they lost for? Panetta talked about an "independent, free and sovereign Iraq." He also said that the US departure begins a "new chapter in history" for Iraq. Yeah, right. What an empty and meaningless cliche. This is the kind of b.s. politicians spout all the time. What does such nonsense mean to the average Iraqi or the family here in our country whose son/daughter/husband/wife will not be around this Christmas or for any more Christmases at all?
It's all so much horse shit. The fact of the matter is the Iraq war was a terrible mistake. It was begun under false pretenses; it shattered formally firm US commitment not to be the aggressors in any war. Not to mention the mess we're leaving behind us. A country pretty much in turmoil right at Iran's doorstep. Think about it. Who came out ahead in this war? Won't take you long to figure out the only winner. Shiite Iran. And if you listen closely to what the pols are saying, you have to conclude that within a few years we'll be at war with Iran. You can bet on it.
*Only two things are very clear. US taxpayers will
continue to pour huge sums of money into Iraq whether US troops are there or not, and
George Bush did not fund a penny of the staggering expense for this
conflict. Nobody really knows the monetary cost of this war. It approaches $1 trillion and twice that when you figure in future costs for veterans' healthcare and debt service.