I am up early to begin cooking for an exciting celebratory day!!
I quickly read the news first and choose this as what most needs to be said, every moment of every day until we are out of Iraq..
Coming Late to the Table
I guess it’s official now since we have a Bush administration insider, Scott McClellan, telling us that the war in Iraq was a monumental strategic blunder, and that it was sold cynically and deceitfully to a craven Congress and to a public still traumatized by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Some of us already knew that, Scott. Some of us knew it at the time.
In his new book, “What Happened,” Mr. McClellan even tells us that wars “should only be waged when necessary.”
Gee, Scott, some of us have known that deep in our hearts all of our lives.
Even the most cursory reading of wartime history — take your pick: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, any war — would convey the message that to engage in warfare unnecessarily is insane.
Reading Mr. McClellan’s book, I kept thinking of the many ordinary people — the service members, their relatives, and so many others — who have suffered so grievously from this misbegotten and thoroughly unnecessary war.
I remember talking with Tyler Hall, a baby-faced sergeant from Wasilla, Alaska, in 2004. “I was blown up in an I.E.D. attack,” he told me.
Sergeant Hall had three bones in his back broken. His arm was broken. He lost his left leg below the knee. He was badly burned. Part of his palate was destroyed. The lower part of his face had to be reconstructed. He suffered a brain injury. And so forth.
That is just the tiniest glimpse of the sort of thing that happens when a president refuses to heed the call of reason and instead, immaturely and unforgivably, sends his country’s brave young volunteers into a pointless conflagration.
More than 4,000 Americans have made the supreme sacrifice for this unnecessary war.
The New York Times and HBO jointly produced a documentary called “Last Letters Home,” a title that requires no explanation. One of those letters was to John Witmer from his daughter Michele, a 20-year-old Army specialist from New Berlin, Wis.
“Dear Daddy,” she wrote, “Happy Father’s Day. I love you so much and you can’t imagine how often I think of you. I hope you have lots of fun today and that the weather is lovely.”
I’ve talked to so many parents who lost children in the war. During an interview in her home in Philadelphia, Celeste Zappa told me about the moment she found out that her son, Sherwood Baker, a sergeant in the Pennsylvania National Guard, had been killed.
One evening in April 2004, Ms. Zappa noticed a man in a dress uniform with medals on his chest coming onto her porch. “He had a notebook in his hand,” she said. “I could see him very clearly even though it was dark and kind of raining. So I came out on the porch and I looked at him. And I knew, but I didn’t want to know.”
Sergeant Baker had only been in Baghdad six weeks when he was blown up in an explosion at a factory. An absurd footnote to his death was the fact that he was helping to provide security for the Iraq Survey Group, which was hunting for the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
The war in Iraq, which has taken 100,000 or more Iraqi lives, and which will cost the U.S. upwards of $3 trillion, and which continues indefinitely, is a scandal and a crime. Scott McClellan is a little late to be blowing the whistle on this outrage.
More important than his belated musings on the war, and his aggrieved take on the leaking of a C.I.A. operative’s identity, is Mr. McClellan’s warning about the “culture of deception” that has poisoned the very atmosphere of national politics and government.
“Washington has become the home of the permanent campaign,” he writes, “a game of endless politicking based on the manipulation of shades of truth, partial truths, twisting of the truth, and spin. Governing has become an appendage of politics rather than the other way around, with the electoral victory and the control of power as the sole measures of success.”
Mr. McClellan’s book landed like a bombshell on Washington not because of any startling revelations or staggering new insights, but because he was an insider who wrote unflatteringly about his boss.
Forget that this is supposed to be a government of, by and for the people, and that the truth is supposed to matter. Mr. McClellan is being denounced as a traitor by those who readily accept the culture of deception, and who believe that a government official’s primary loyalty is not to the people, but to power itself — in this case, to the president.
It’s exactly that kind of thinking that begets unnecessary wars.