The end

Well, as it turned out, 2011 wasn’t all that great of a year, in terms of the overall health and well-being of the United States of America. Probably about on a par with 2010, but my judgment may be negatively distorted by the fact that I live in Nevada, a state that remains firmly entrenched in Bust after enjoying a ridiculous Boom in years previous.

But the country is getting a very nice gift this holiday season, even if it’s being delivered in rather hushed tones. So Happy Holidays, USA. The Iraq war is over.

Oh, we’ll still have about 15,000 folks working out of our massive embassy in Baghdad, and you can rest assured that most of those will know to handle an automatic weapon. But basically, the Iraq War is done, and this is a good thing. How could it not be?

Iraq, as most Americans now accept, grudgingly or gleefully, was a disaster. And an embarrassment. Tough to spin it any other way, really. Which, after all, is why the end of this war is getting the subtle treatment. You don’t celebrate the end of a really bad blooper. You don’t throw a ticker tape parade at the end of a royal fuck-up.

The Iraq War was the kind of hubris-fueled, willfully ignorant, “policy determines the intelligence” misadventure that can bruise an Empire. It’s exactly this kind of thinking that has led to the erosion and eventual downfall of empires throughout recorded history. We dare to think of ourselves as somehow different, but now we may have at least caught a whiff that we do so at our very great peril. As evidence, just take a look at the state of our country. There’s no way you can disconnect our current serious ailments from Bush’s Folly. In a very real sense, a lot of this mess began on March 19, 2003. The great hemorrhaging of blood, money and national character that poured from the wounds incurred in the quest of a strategic regime change based upon one of the last great accessible blobs of the planet’s petroleum has yet to heal. Leaving will obviously be helpful to this healing process.

The jurors of History now sit sequestered, and they’ll render their verdict in time. Yes, there’s still the chance that History will eventually judge this arrogant and ham-fisted invasion to somehow be a positive. If Iraq in 2020 is a functioning country, similar perhaps to Turkey, History may well mellow its verdict. The heartfelt gratitude of millions of Iraqis, forever thankful that we barged into their country and tossed Saddam, must be considered.

But as an American who wants my country to be strong, good and correct in its actions, and knowing what I now know from my vantage point high atop Mt. Hindsight, how could I possibly go ahead and give the green light to Shock and Awe on that fateful night in March almost nine years ago?