Imagine a man who lives on a large cul de sac and is harassed by a loathsome neighbor at the end of the road.
The neighbor and his two terrible sons are really rotten. He bullies the other neighbors, infringes on their property lines and causes disruptions and disturbances in the neighborhood with abandon.
One day our imagined man gets a phone call from a trusted friend. He tells him he has heard from another friend that the horrible neighbor has a stockpile of weapons and is conspiring with a gang from a couple of streets away to kill our imagined man.
Having finally had enough, our imagined man rallies a few of the neighbors (though most didn’t want to have anything to do with it), grabs a shotgun and storms down to the end of the cul de sac and kills the loathsome neighbor and his two terrible sons. He threatens the neighbor’s wife and other, younger children with harm, shoots holes in all of the family’s vehicles and for good measure burns down the house.
While standing in the street marveling at his mission accomplished, he gets a call from the friend again, who says there is no stockpile of weapons and no conspiracy. The friend’s friend made up the story.
“Oh well,” says our imagined man as he goes back home, “he deserved it, anyway.”
For the above scenario the part of the wrathful man is played by the United States and the loathsome neighbor played by Iraq.
On Dec. 15 the Iraq War officially ended. There’s a reason there is no rejoicing in the street, no parades, no banner headlines proclaiming VI Day.
The war was the most shameful escapade in American history.
We must all wear the cloak of shame. It’s all of our faults. America is a democracy and we let this happen. We held no one accountable. In fact, we rewarded with reelection those responsible for the most colossal, most egregious intelligence failure in American history.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There was no conspiracy between al Qaida and Iraq. There was no clear and present danger to the country.
At best, we sent young men and women into harm’s way on a mistake, at worst, on a lie.
Yet rather than outrage, there’s a shrug of the shoulders. We’ve even refused to pay for it. We’ve insisted on tax cuts rather than a tax increase to pay for the $1 trillion cost of the war. Apparently, we needed the tax savings to buy a new flat screen TV or the maintenance fee on a timeshare. War? What war?
The best most of us could do about the war was to put a magnetic yellow ribbon on the back of our cars and trucks because you have to support the troops; they were just following order after all.
Perhaps. But the crass and craven men who gave them those orders had neither the honor nor the courage to admit their mistakes. No one was fired or drummed out of public service forever for their incompetence. There is no honor in American government anymore, only corrupt Machiavellian ambition.
But blame and shame cannot lie solely with the Bush administration and the Congress.
No, this is the shame of a nation.
We’re a democracy. We let this happen.
Shame on all of us.