In her latest outing, Walsh is transported near to tears by images of the president greeting soldiers during his unannounced visit to Iraq. (Yes, even though the "surge" has been "a success beyond our wildest dreams," as Obama instructed us last year, American leaders still have to creep into the "liberated" land like a thief in the night.) In worshipful tones that one might have heard directed at the president at any point in the previous eight years from, say, National Review Online or Pajamas Media, Walsh gawps in awe at the bonding of the legions with their imperator:
I found it incredibly moving to watch the first grainy video footage of President Obama being mobbed by delirious American soldiers during his surprise visit to Baghdad on Tuesday. They crowded him joyously, some of them jumping up and down, stereotypical gruff-looking gray-haired white guys just beaming at the president, women and men alike leaning in for hugs....
Obama himself looked completely happy, managing to pause and chat with more soldiers in just a few minutes than you would ever imagine possible. The word "poise" seems inadequate to describe his capacity to impart real meaning to fleeting moments.... To see Obama's personal rapport with the men and women who are fighting and dying for our country would almost have to be moving, no matter your ideology.
Of course, we saw these same scenes -- boisterous, happy soldiers greeting the president with hugs and cheers -- played out over and over during Bush's term, on his every visit to Iraq. Even the infamous, much-derided "turkee" trip early in the war was an identically joyous scene for those on the ground in Baghdad. Yet one strains to recall Walsh ever thrilling to the sight of a president's personal rapport with the occupation troops in those days, or hearing her hopes that we could all put aside partisan feelings and simply appreciate these moving, patriotic moments, no matter our ideology.
No, when the troops gave Bush a rousing "hoo-ah" and "leaned in for hugs" and a quick personal word which the president somehow managed to impart to so many so quickly that you could hardly imagine it, Walsh and other lib-progs were rightly unimpressed. Such brief, emotional scenes did not change the fact that the war was a murderous, criminal enterprise, and that the soldiers in Iraq were not (and are not) "fighting and dying for their country" but were (and are) instead being used as cannon fodder in an unprovoked act of aggression that had been deeply harmful to their country, and to the entire world as well. But this sort kind of incisive, cold-eyed analysis is no longer wanted, now that one of "ours" is in the White House.
Of course, this is all just surface chatter -- the peccadilloes of partisanship, the bemusing spectacle of political leopards changing, or at least re-ordering, their spots. It's not really important in itself. But there is a more sinister side to such hero-gazing. In the course of her encomium, Walsh applauds Obama's recourse to one of the most morally hideous tropes of our time:
According to AP's Jennifer Loven, speaking by phone to MSNBC a little while ago, Obama got his biggest applause when he told the crowd, "It's time for Iraq to take responsibility for itself."
This is the line that national Democrats such as Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the gaggle of gormless bagmen, blue dogs and corporate shills in Congress have been pushing for years. The American invasion itself was "an extraordinary achievement," as Obama had the shameless brass to announce in Baghdad this week. "You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country." And now it's up to these ungrateful, lazy, shiftless creatures to take advantage of the magnificent gift America has given them -- or else.
The moral depravity of this stance is breathtaking. Invade a country for no reason, kill a million of its people, drive four million into exile, destroy its infrastructure, plunge it into civil war, abet its "ethnic cleansing," loot its wealth, put it in the hands of religious extremists, unleash disease, poverty and social breakdown: this is an "extraordinary achievement," says the progressive paladin. And now the Iraqis must "take responsibility" for the hell on earth created by their invaders.
I find this wicked arrogance almost beyond description. Fortunately, Arthur Silber has limned it well, with his usual power and eloquence, and I want to quote him at length on this subject, because it bears repeating. But you should go to the original for the many links he provides to buttress and expand the piece. From Silber:
Thus speaks the new Imperial Master:
President Barack Obama said Sunday that the United States is in a position to place more responsibility in the hands of the Iraqis following provincial elections and a reduction in violence there.
"In conversations that I've had with the joint chiefs, with people, the commanders on the ground, I think that we have a sense now that the Iraqis just had a very significant election, with no significant violence there, that we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis," Obama told NBC television.
At the time of the initial invasion, Iraq posed no threat of any significance whatsoever to the United States. This blindingly obvious conclusion was clear to millions of people throughout the world -- "ordinary" people who examined the publicly available evidence, and who did not rely on "secret" knowledge, which goes by the viciously misnamed designation "intelligence," which "intelligence" is almost always wrong and which is never the basis for major policy decisions in any event.
The U.S. ruling class also knew that Iraq represented no threat of any consequence. They didn't care. They had entirely different objectives and concerns: the expansion and consolidation of American global hegemony. The world is the U.S. ruling class's oyster, and they will devour it. And you, and over a million innocent Iraqis, and whoever else proves troublesome. As a general rule, it is advisable not to place yourself in the path of a dangerously delusional homicidal maniac.
Thus, the United States government and almost all members of the ruling class -- with only two or three honorable exceptions -- embarked on a lengthy series of brutal, horrifying, profoundly immoral war crimes, and on a world historical genocide. Thus, all those members of the ruling class who have voted to continue and fund these crimes are war criminals. Barack Obama is a war criminal. Don't bother to argue with me: argue with the Nuremberg Principles.
How, then, in the name of all that is decent, humane and minimally civilized, does the President of the United States dare to say that "we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis"? "We" -- that is to say, the U.S. government and the ruling class -- are "in a position" to beg for forgiveness, which no decent human being should ever grant. There is nothing these criminals can ever do to earn it. "We are in a position" to make all those reparations possible, in whatever forms and whenever they can be offered. From an essay [I wrote] two and a half years ago:
Given the immense, incalculable destruction we have caused, we are obligated to provide significant financial aid to Iraq for the foreseeable future. In light of the damage this catastrophe has already caused to our economy, that is a formidable prospect -- but it is markedly superior to continuing to pour billions of dollars down the drain of this murderous occupation. And we must be responsible for our actions, and especially for our gravely mistaken and immoral ones. To the extent amends are possible, we must offer them. No amount of money will ever make up for the lives that have been lost and those that have been irrevocably damaged, but we must do whatever is possible. That will still not merit forgiveness for our actions, but at least we will have acted with a minimal sense of honor.
Beyond this, "we" should do nothing but get out.
Get out. Every single goddamned American. Out, within months. To hell with the disgusting lie about "combat troops." All Americans, out....
This has also been my position for years (here, for instance): The Iraq war is a crime; stop committing the crime, get out immediately, pay massive reparations for the evil you have done -- and be prepared to take in the horde of refugees who will flee the harsh and broken regime you have created in the ruins of the country you have destroyed. For you -- you -- are responsible for them now. (For more on what we have created with our "extraordinary achievement" in Iraq, see here, here, here and here.)
Silber goes on:
As I have noted in many essays, the arrogance and condescension of the U.S. government and our ruling class is overwhelming and unassailable. It is so deeply embedded in the world view of most Americans, who unthinkingly absorb it from almost all politicians and all major media voices, that we barely even notice it.
And from this blindness comes a new influx of support for America's murderous, militarist Terror Wars, as Justin Raimondo reports in his aptly-titled "Progressive Warmongers" [see original for links]:
That’s where the pro-war progressive think-tanks come in: their role is to forge a new pro-war consensus, one that commits us to a long-range "nation-building" strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are the Center for a New American Security, explicitly set up as home base for the "national security Democrats" who make up the party’s hawkish faction; Brookings; and, last but not least, the Center for American Progress, which was an oasis of skepticism when Team Bush was "liberating" Iraq, and a major critic of the occupation. Now the leadership of CAP is making joint appearances with the neocons over at the newly christened Foreign Policy Initiative and issuing lengthy white papers outlining their Ten Year Plan for the military occupation of Afghanistan.
Yes, it's somewhat amusing to watch liberal lions and lionesses mirroring the sycophancy that their partisan counterparts once lavished on Bush: an interesting, instructive foible of the political animal when it comes within the proximity of power. But it also has a far more serious, more dangerous side. The mainstream liberal acquiescence in Obama's Terror War "continuity" removes one of the few remaining bulwarks to the corrosive, witless and ultimately suicidal militarism that plagues us. It helps smooth the way for more disasters: more war, more hatred, more corruption, more tyranny, more pointless suffering, ruin, poverty and death.
To paraphrase their own paladin, it's time for liberals and progressives to "start putting more responsibility" on themselves, to see more clearly the reality in front of them -- just as they always urged the blind followers of the last wielder of imperial power to do -- and acknowledge the horrific consequences of the policies they are now so mindlessly and emotionally supporting.
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This story was published on April 9, 2009.