What follows is an excerpt from an article by Peter Van Buren on the disasters following the Iraq War. I will provide a paragraph, and then say where I disagree.
“We don’t get it. We really don’t. We may not, in military terms, know how to win any more, but as a society we don’t get losing either. We don’t recognize it, even when it’s staring us in the face, when nothing — and I mean nothing — works out as planned. Take the upcoming 10th anniversary of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq as Exhibit A. You could describe what happened in that country as an unmitigated disaster — from the moment, in April 2003, U.S. troops first entered a Baghdad in flames and being looted (“stuff happens”) and were assigned to guard only the Interior Ministry (i.e. the secret police) and the Oil Ministry (well, you know what that is) to the moment in December 2011 when the last American combat unit slipped out of that land in the dead of the night (after lying to Iraqi colleagues about what they were doing).”
The entire article is linked below and serves as a helpful reminder of the debacle that was Desert Storm. I do not disagree with the facts of the article, but I very much disagree with its tone. I believe it is a serous mistake to lapse into this kind of confused narrative that pictures our foreign policy as good intentions gone bad through our own incompetence.
It was an international banker who brought me to clarity. I was doing his wedding and at the dinner he began to talk about a deal he was making with Libya. At the time the US had no dealings with Libya, so I asked him how he was able to do that. He deflected my comment and changed the subject. I began to I express my torture at not being able to figure out Reagan’s foreign policy. It just didn’t make any sense. It seemed contradictory and self defeating. After some time of begging on my part the banker, who had been drinking heavily, flashed an anguished smile, leaned forward and conspiratorially whispered three words that forever removed my confusion. “Follow the money.”
For the people who profit from it, no war is a failure. If their nation is humiliated they still get to keep the wealth. Even if their nation falls, the rich go on finding ever new places to spend the blood money.
So when we discuss the Iraq war we must also ask ourselves three questions: Who made money building up the government of Saddam Hussein even when it was clear he was a brutal dictator? Who made money destroying him along with the nation of Iraq? Who made rebuilding the nation of Iraq, however poorly it was done? When you realize that you are speaking about the same group of people, you will understand the shell game that lies behind US foreign policy.
Which is not to say there are no well intentioned people in the process, or that there is some nefarious plot that is done consciously. It is enough to have a few people without conscience hidden in the system of unbridled profit that is capitalism, and also hidden in the most profitable business of all- which is war. So if you want to know why your son or daughter may die in a foreign land, do not listen to the noble words of the politicians who but are the talking heads for a much deeper mindset. If you want to know why our nation goes to war, follow the money.
Just a minor correction: the conflict labeled “Desert Storm” took place in 1991. It was not the war described in the quotation, which started in 2003. The 2003 war with Iraq was called, without irony I believe, “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. That money has been circulating a long long time.
Nancy, I thought of that later in the day after I posted. I always appreciate corrections, thanks.