• Iraq and Another Memorial Day

    May 23, 2015

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Military, Syria


    Iraq? On another Memorial Day, we’re still talking about Iraq?


    I attended the 2015 commencement ceremonies at Fordham University in New York. The otherwise typical ritual (future, global, passion, do what you love, you’ll never forget this place) began oddly, with an admonition to pause for a moment in honor of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a special congratulations to veterans among the graduating class. No other group was so singled out.

    At William and Mary, a university that counts Thomas Jefferson as an alumnus, Condoleezza Rice was granted this spring an honorary degree in public service; William and Mary’s chancellor is former head of the CIA and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

    The ongoing news features “gaffs” by various Republican candidates about whether they would invade Iraq then knowing now, or maybe then invade now knowing then, or tomorrow knowing less. Pundits recycle the old arguments about imperfect decisions, mistakes being made, and a new trope, that Obama “lost” Iraq.

    The mother of the first Navy Seal killed in Iraq wrote an open letter to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. Dempsey responded to reports that Ramadi, Iraq fell to Islamic State by describing the city as “not symbolic in any way.” The mother asked a version of the familiar question, “so what did he die for?”

    Remembering the Dead

    Yes, it is another Memorial Day and we are still talking about Iraq.

    The facts are in front of us. The Iraq War of 2003-2011 killed 4491 Americans. The Pentagon states 32,226 Americans were wounded “in action,” a number which does not include an estimated 200,000 soldiers who will suffer PTSD or major depression, or the 285,000 of them who experienced a probable traumatic brain injury.

    On the Iraqi side of the equation, no one knows. Most of the Iraqis died more of the war — well-after then-president Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” and an end of major hostilities — than in the war per se. Estimates run from some 200,000 up to a million dead.

    Argue with any of the numbers you like. Agree that the “real” numbers are big.

    There are similar sets of numbers for Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and many other places America makes war, overtly, covertly and via drone.

    Lessons from Iraq

    And that is why we should, on Memorial Day, still be talking about Iraq. We haven’t learned anything from our mistakes there and it is time we did.

    The lessons of Iraq are not limited to bad decision making, falsifying intelligence reports, and exaggerated claims about smoking guns and mushroom clouds.

    Those are just details, and they come and go with wars: the Gulf of Tonkin incident that brought America into the Vietnam War was false. So were the stories out of Gulf War 1.0 of Iraqi troops throwing Kuwaiti infants from their incubators. Same for the “we’re just on a humanitarian mission to save the Yazidi people” that reopened American involvement in Iraq less than a year ago. Just as false are the “we are invading ______ (fill in the blank with any number of locations) to liberate the people” there from a thug government, an evil dictator, another bad guy.

    We’ve eliminated a lot of Qaddafi’s and Saddam’s, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone on the ground in their old countries happy about what resulted from that. War after war we need to fight back against barbarians who seek to impose an evil philosophy across an entire region (Communism? Terrorism?) War after war we need to fight “over there” to prevent them from attacking us here.

    Maybe as late as the Vietnam War we accepted it all. That was the way of it. You could call it patriotism, or you could call it naivety, or even faith. Most hadn’t yet realized our leaders would lie to us about things as important as war. There had been no Watergate, no fake WMDs. American Exceptionalism was not a right-wing trope twirled inside the confection of “Morning in America.” But we of the September 12 group of Americans have no excuse.

    The lies and fudges and mistakes that took us to war in Iraq in 2003 were not unique; they were policy. There is a template for every American war since 1945, from novelties like the invasion of Grenada to the seemingly never-ending conflicts post-9/11. Unless and until we talk about that on some Memorial Day, we will be talking about Iraq, or wherever next year’s war is, on another Memorial Day.

    Alone at Night

    I think about that mom who wonders what her son died for in Ramadi. She is not alone; there are lots of moms whose sons died in Ramadi, and Fallujah, and Helmand Province, and Hue and Danang, even Grenada. Late at night, perhaps after a third glass of white wine failed again to let them sleep, those moms may try and console themselves thinking their sons and daughters died for “something.” I can’t criticize or begrudge them for that, they having lost a child. Ghosts are terrible things to follow you through life.

    The kids who will serve in our military into the “commitment” to Afghanistan that extends into 2024 are currently in elementary school. They are out on the lawn right now this Memorial Day, playing at being ghosts.

    What I would like to do on this Memorial Day is ask all the mom’s who have not yet lost a child in a war that does not matter to think about those unthinkable things while they are waving a flag, and while their kids are still alive.

    If we think about that this Memorial Day, maybe we can start to learn the real lesson of Iraq.

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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      I suggest that many moms would love having their son be a war hero perhaps to compensate for their husbands poor showing in being an “income” warrior. Women are no less venal than men and will easily push a status agenda at the expense of their offspring.

      05/23/15 8:54 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...


      “If we think about that this Memorial Day, maybe we can start to learn the real lesson of Iraq.”

      Never hand your lives or your children’s lives over to a mad man.

      “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”

      Oscar Wilde

      05/23/15 6:01 PM | Comment Link

    • starknakedtruth said...


      “What I would like to do on this Memorial Day is ask all the mom’s who have not yet lost a child in a war that does not matter to think about those unthinkable things while they are waving a flag, and while their kids are still alive.”

      I am a military mom.

      Believe me when I say, I think about the unthinkable each and every day.

      You can’t be a military mom and not think about it.

      05/24/15 8:13 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...



      Only a real mad man like Dick-head thought this would end well.

      05/24/15 8:21 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      It seems that the enemies of our proxies succeed with absolutely no air cover whereas our proxies have become so dependent upon American air support that without it they flee.

      05/24/15 9:06 AM | Comment Link

    • Stephen said...


      In his May 19th article for the Independent, Patrick Cockburn mentions the large amount of heavy equipment left by the fleeing Iraqi army at Ramadi and then Ash Carter, in the article posted above by Rich, states how important it is to get equipment to the Iraqi army. So Washington sends arms, it is parked in the vicinity of the Iraqi army for a time and goes right to IS. There is the Memorial day present to the ever grieving Iraqi mothers. It is all so sick and twisted.

      05/24/15 1:01 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Stephen- that is the point. The USofA wants to to sell arms to anyone and everyone. Who cares if it changes hands on occasion? It is not as if one has to file off the serial numbers of all those weapons in order to put them back in service.

      05/24/15 1:22 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      How many lies into wars from the halfascist extended burning Bush crime family will fool US 3 times (George I, George II and “Chicken George” ‘Ahduzsee Dawn’ the III *) and (The JEB Is UP) MORE?
      But mothers aside, at some point in our volunteer military; the dupes themselves must shoulder their 卐hare of blame: Why do they enlist and engage in conduct of these serial and utterly ILLEGAL wars of AGGREϟϟION, much less daily illegal orders pursuant thereto?!

      05/24/15 5:55 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...


      Iraq War: “It wasn’t a lie, it was ineptitude with insufficient cover. ” Mad Man Don Draper

      05/25/15 9:37 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...


      America is exceptionally STUPID.

      05/25/15 9:38 AM | Comment Link

    • Iraq and Another Memorial Day - Freedom's Floodgates said...


      […] Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com. […]

      05/25/15 10:14 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Evo Morales (Pres., Bolivia) speech on the US:

      Our Latin American memory is full of episodes of armed intervention from the United States, invasions, dominating impositions and constant aggression.[…]

      The world’s chief promoter of military dictatorships and coups is the United States. The colonializing imperial view of the United States towards our Latin America and the Caribbean is one of contempt and belittlement, a view of superiority, political, military, technological and economic superiority. It is the gaze of the colonizer over the colonized, the invader over the invaded, the ruler over their vassals, it is the eagle eyeing its helpless prey.[…]

      We never declared war on the United States, never tried to annex a part of their territory, we never armed ourselves to threaten their safety. Under no circumstances did we interfere in their internal affairs, we never violated their sovereignty […]

      Obama … listen to your people who must be tired of so much war, having buried many dead and have so many invalids.
      Leave in the past the speeches full of double standards, put aside the threats, blackmail and pressures that the U.S. Capitol or the White House envelop our governments.

      Stop using fear, the politics of terror and conditions of any kind. Stop behaving like an empire and let’s conduct ourselves as democratic and sovereign states. All empires perish, democracies are eternal.[…]

      We want no more Monroes on our continent, no Truman’s doctrine, no more Reagan doctrine, no more Bush doctrine.

      We want no more presidential decrees, no executive orders declaring us threats to their country, we do not want them to watch over us, monitor our cell phones, spy on us or kidnap our presidential aircraft.

      President Obama, stop turning the world into a battlefield.[…]

      Avoid wars that you have produced so far, wars that only benefit the financial tyranny, that benefit the large armaments industry, stop destroying entire civilizations, stop chasing ghosts. […]

      What democracy and freedom can the government of the United States speak of, if everyday they violate the human rights of millions of citizens worldwide, through electronic surveillance, undercover operations and persecution?
      What human rights can the US government speak of if torture is a common method used by its intelligence agencies and the death penalty is still in force? […]

      They want to be the champions of human rights when they do not even meet the basic requirement to ratify [UN] agreements.[…]

      What democracy can the Government of the United States speak of if it is sponsoring terrorist acts in various parts of the world?

      It is not exporting democracy when it produces the greatest quantity of weapons for the destruction of humanity. No democracy can sustain itself by spying on the world, violating the privacy of millions of citizens.

      What democracy can President Obama speak of when he sends thousands of armed marines to our continent to indoctrinate soldiers to fight against our peoples?

      What a strange democracy that installs military bases in our countries, when it applies extraterritorial laws, when it has unresolved territorial issues with Cuba and Puerto Rico.

      What democracy can it speak of as it cruelly blockades [Cuba] for 50 years.[…]

      Everyone knows that the supposed war on drugs was merely a pretext to impose your economic policies.

      The wars against communism, against drug trafficking and terrorism have become a pretext to impose policies of fear and intervene in strategic areas to plunder our natural resources.
      President Obama, stop making war, and turn your country into a democratic republic, instead of maintaining an anti-democratic and unsustainable empire.

      I respectfully ask you to concern yourself with the millions of Americans living in extreme poverty in your own country.[…]

      President Obama, I ask you to expel the criminals from your territory, from your country.

      It is not right for your country to become a home for confessed terrorists, corrupt ones, of murderers, of separatists who have escaped. Expel those who have escaped so that they can be judged by their peoples.

      President Obama, if you feel that you are the leader of a world power, I ask you take the lead in saving Mother Earth, in saving life, of humanity. […]


      05/25/15 10:57 AM | Comment Link

    • jo6pac said...


      teri said

      Thanks Evo is my hero for sure.

      05/25/15 4:44 PM | Comment Link

    • Linda J said...


      Thank you for this. It reminded me of Cindy Sheehan, a grieving mom who rose up and took her questioning heart to Bush everywhere he went, including to the ditches around Crawford, TX, where my husband and I followed, driving from WA state to support her quest. “For what noble cause did my son die?”

      She is still actively trying to turn this imperial ship around. http://cindysheehanssoapbox.com

      05/25/15 6:18 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Memorial Day. Right.

      Ask a mother in all the countries where the Empire murdered their sons, why they died.

      note to self..

      you are a living witness to the undeniable barbarism of your own government. That’s all I need to die in complete recognition of my existence on this planet.

      05/25/15 8:49 PM | Comment Link

    • Lisa said...


      As though Iraq is passe (or Vietnam, or any of it.) But yes, Peter, it must be stated, because the young turks want to think everything is new, for them.

      Per the final image of the as-yet unaffected mother, Krishnamurti wrote this in his essay, “On War” many years ago:

      An American lady came to see me a couple of years ago, during the war. She said she had lost her son in Italy and that she had another son aged sixteen whom she wanted to save; so we talked the thing over. I suggested to her that to save her son she had to cease to be an American; she had to cease to be greedy, cease piling up wealth, seeking power, domination, and be morally simple – not merely simple in clothes, in outward things, but simple in her thoughts and feelings, in her relationships.

      She said,” That is too much. You are asking far too much. I cannot do it, because circumstances are too powerful for me to alter.” Therefore she was responsible for the destruction of her son.

      05/26/15 9:36 PM | Comment Link

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