I’m still a little out of rhythm after the events of the past few weeks. I think it’s been the past few weeks. Anyway, like I said.
In the course of trying to re-enter routines, I’m beginning to do my usual mishmash of online reading. One of the things I just bumped into via The Beachwood Reporter was an op-ed piece published in the LA Times. It’s well written and sums up a lot of what I, and I’m sure others, have been thinking lately with regard to Iraq. And it triggered some thinking that’s been rattling around the back of my skull for some time.
I’ve been to a fair number of ballgames the past few years. And for some time now, Major League Baseball, at every game, singles out a member of the armed services to be honored. They are introduced, brought onto the field, and roundly applauded. And every time I’m a little conflicted. I’ve talked to other people who have the same reaction, but it’s a difficult thing to articulate for fear of appearing to denigrate the honorees. For me, though, it’s not about them. They’ve done and are doing their jobs, admirably. It’s about us, in the stands. Because I can’t help feeling like it’s more about making us feel good than them. Or to perhaps to assuage some guilt because, well, unlike in Viet Nam or Korea or the World Wars — when soldiers were drafted, the sacrifice is a lot less common to all of us.
Also because for reasons outlined in the LA Times op-ed, asking our armed forces to go to Iraq was a tremendous disservice to them. (Not to mention the–at the minimum by all estimates I’ve seen–100,000+ Iraqis who’ve been killed during the war.)
I’ve always felt this way. I didn’t want to. Back when everyone was reeling from 9/11, I remember that things looked different. It was hard to know what to believe and what not to believe. But. Even then, there was good information — though not necessarily as well reported as it should have been — that the rationale for the war was bogus. In fact, the no-fly zones and other harassments of Saddam Hussein that began with President George H.W. Bush and continued under President Clinton had worked. Hussein was not a threat outside his borders, but he was still able to maintain control within them. (Which we’ve learned is a pretty neat trick.)
When I listened to Colin Powell address the U.N. during the sunup to Iraq, I really wanted him to convince me that there were WMDs. Because it was clear we were going come hell or high water. But as I listened, I thought to myself, “Where’s the goods?” And I just got a nauseated feeling.
I have no delusions that any action I could’ve taken individually back then could’ve stopped it. We had leadership that took advantage of our collective fear, we succumbed to our fear, and our major media went along. We all failed.
But next time, and there will be a next time, I’m going to try harder to be sure reason is heard. Which is probably the greatest tribute we can give to the people in the armed services.