"I don't want the US stuck in the quicksand in Iraq ... my great fear is that it's going to be another Vietnam."
To which this someone replied:
"I think by next year this time they'll have long left Iraq. Shall we plan a little celebration if that happens?"
Of course, that little celebration never happened. Because this exchange happened exactly two years ago, in December 2004. Not only had the Americans not "long left Iraq" a year later, not only have the Americans not "long left Iraq" another year later today -- instead, they are in a mess that is, right now, at its bloodiest and most tangled. Yet it's hardly a surprise that this someone has long forgotten the two-year-old claim about Americans leaving Iraq.
Why does a country like the US get itself into brutal, nearly intractable messes like in Vietnam and Iraq? Many reasons. Certainly one is that cheerleaders and supporters of these adventures are so sanguine about how quick and easy they will be. So sanguine, yet so unwilling to admit a mistake. So ignorant of the lessons of history.
Hatreds are being sown, people are dying by the hundreds and thousands, no end in sight, repercussions spread wide. What will it take for the cheerleaders to acknowledge this much?
Then there's Chris Hedges, that passionate, compassionate, remarkable war journalist. Of an intimately connected conflict, he wrote a few days ago:
- How [does Washington] think people who are desperate, deprived of hope, dignity and a way to make a living, under attack from one of the most technologically advanced armies on the planet, will respond? Do they believe that creating a Hobbesian nightmare for the Palestinians will blunt terrorism, curb suicide attacks and foster peace? Do they not see that the rest of the Middle East watches the slaughter in horror and rage -- its angry, disenfranchised young men and women determined to overcome feelings of impotence and humiliation, even at the cost of their own lives?