Saturday, June 15, 2013

I Hate The War

In her finest role to date, Sarah Jessica Parker plays high school grief counselor Peggy Callas in the 2005 film Strangers With Candy (directed by Paul Dinello, screenplay by Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris) which stars Sedaris as 47-year-old Jerri Blank, going back to Flatpoint High School to get her diploma.  To get rid of her, her teacher Mr. Noblet (Stephen Colbert) sends her to the grief counselor.

Jerri Blank: I'm Jerri Blank and my daddy's in a coma. 

Peggy Callas: You know what, Jerri? I wish my daddy was in a coma. He's dead, Jerri. He was executed for War Crimes -- but for insurance purposes, we say he was eaten by wolves. Anyway, my point is, Jerri, somebody's always got it worse. 

It's hard not to think of that scene when you read the latest nonsense from Patrick Cockburn.  It's called "Iraq: 10 Years Later, the Debate Still Rages."  The anti-Sunni gets more than a little looney.  He misrepresents MP Glenda Jackson's full statement but you can't be a Cockburn and respect women so that's a given.  He goes into full crackpot mode with this paragraph:

 What is striking about the US attitude to the Iraq war and the British is that there is much greater American willingness to admit mistakes and learn from them. And it is not just that Britain may have made a mistake in going to war, but that it went on making them. For instance, it tried and failed to control southern Iraq around Basra with a handful of troops. Three years on, the British Army dispatched a force of inadequate size, in Helmand province, whose main impact was to exacerbate rebellion.

 Maybe dumb asses should stick to writing about what they know.  I realize that would leave Cockburn with very little to write about.  But that paragraph is intensely wrong.

Right now, in England, the conclusions from the Iraq Inquiry -- which Cockburn did not cover but we did cover every day of public testimony in that hearing -- are overdue and maybe they'll be released this year or maybe they'll be buried for some time to come.

But the reality is that former Prime Minister Tony Blair got put on the hot seat and made to squirm as was forced to answer questions.  Honestly?  Tony Blair doesn't know how to be honest.

Bully Boy Bush left the White House and we're lucky if a reporter happens to ask him a generic Iraq War question.

There have been no inquires into the Iraq War in the US.

What mistakes were admitted to?  Forget learned from, what mistakes were admitted to?

Cockburn condemns Glenda Jackson for what he sees as her arguing that the war could have been fought better -- that omits entire sentences in her statement and it also omits her line about "horror." But it's funny he condemns her for that and yet he writes:.

For instance, it tried and failed to control southern Iraq around Basra with a handful of troops. Three years on, the British Army dispatched a force of inadequate size, in Helmand province, whose main impact was to exacerbate rebellion.

So Cockburn's championing learning how to fight war more effectively?

If he thinks so, he's not even learning that.

Cockburn is aware of how horrible it was for the British army in southern Iraq.  He didn't bother to report on it in real time -- apparently it was too embarrassing to report that the British military fled in the dark, fled their own base and that, within hours of their departure, their base was taken over by Iraqis who ripped it apart.  They fled closer to Basra and they couldn't maintain Basra either.  They were humiliated.  But they could have called for reinforcements.  They didn't.  Because reinforcements wouldn't have made a bit of difference.

Even Nouri's ridiculous "charge" of the area in 2008 didn't work out.  Unless the goal was to see how many members of Nouri's military could defect.

You could even argue that the British were misled by the US government into believing Basra would be an easy assignment.  Basra was not going to be occupied.  As bad as things were in the south for the British, it could have been much worse.

The BBC covers Iraq today more than any US outlet except the Associated Press.  More than CNN, more than the New York Times, more than the Los Angeles Times.   The Telegraph of London still regularly files on Iraq.  ITV and Sky News sometimes file.  Many times, when there's a report on PBS' The NewsHour, it's an ITV report.  NPR hasn't filed a report from Iraq in forever.

In the US, Iraq is The Forgotten War.  Monday, the New American Foundation had an event on just that topic, Madeline McSherry writes about it and what is her article called?  "Iraq: The Forgotten War."  You can listen to a podcast of the event here.  (We'll note it next week.  I tried repeatedly to work it in this past week but there wasn't time.)

Judging by his writing, Patrick Cockburn has very little clue as to what took place at the Iraq Inquiry (or the work of Stop the War UK -- they were out in full force during the public testimony).  His paper "The Independent" didn't really cover the inquiry except for carrying angry outbursts passed off as columns by Tony Blair's online mistress John Rentoul.  And Cockburn had lost interest in Iraq at that point anyway.  He was filing on Afghanistan.  Just one more pretender -- pretending to give a damn about Iraq -- only to move on.

But while he seems lost about his own country with regards to Iraq, he's dead wrong about the US and should learn not to shoot his mouth off just to be thrilled by the sound of his voice.

He should also stop whining.  Like Sarah Jessica Parker says in Strangers With Candy, "Anyway, my point is, Jerri, somebody's always got it worse."

Or maybe Maria McKee captures Patrick better?

Some people want and want what they don't have
'Til it keeps 'em awake at night in their bed just twitchin'
Some people like to complain about every little thing 
Some folks just never stop bitchin'
-- "Why Wasn't I More Grateful (When Life Was Sweet)," written by Bruce Brody, Marvin Etzioni and Maria McKee, first appears on McKee's You've Gotta Sin To Get Saved

Regardless, the US government has demonstrated no willingness to admit mistakes, let alone learn from them.  Nor has the US press.  Keep smoking what you're smoking, Patrick, but don't confuse what's appearing before your eyes with reality.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

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