George Bush says we must honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in Iraq.
At last we agree on something.
Mr. Bush, of course, is famously unable nowadays to articulate just what honorable cause our soldiers have been killing and dying for, despite the hundreds at Camp Casey demanding of him precisely that.
Perhaps I can be of some service to the president. I'd like to offer him an answer he can give to Cindy Sheehan's simple question.
You see, in a sense, Mr. Bush was right to analogize Iraq to World War II. Just as in that horrific war, Americans soldiers have been sacrificing their lives in Iraq to save the world from the scourge of a ravenous imperialist with the power to destroy millions of lives.
No, I'm not talking about Adolf Hitler. And I'm not talking about Saddam Hussein. The menace to world peace these soldiers are saving us from is none other than their commander-in-chief, George W. Bush.
The political present in America is replete with the strangest and most intense ironies, but surely there is no greater one than this. For the truth is that the greatest service being performed by American soldiers in Iraq is the dismantling of the very evil regime which sent them there in the first place.
Let there be no mistake - ironies and counterintuitions aside - that this is precisely what they are doing. Every day now, and with every additional soldier senselessly blown to eternity, George W. Bush's nightmarish experiment in proto-fascism sinks deeper into the grave to which it so deservedly belongs.
Chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest love to wrap themselves up in the flag and call our troops heroes at every public relations opportunity. Off stage, however, it is probably too much to assume that they even bother to sneer contumeliously at these foolish hoi polloi, these cannon fodder for the sport of kings. A more likely guess is that they don't have the time or concern even for contempt.
But these soldiers are indeed heroes, and not only because they have the courage to grapple with hellish conditions their pampered political leaders could never begin to survive. They are heroes because they are sacrificing to save more of their brothers and sisters from dying for a lie, and they are heroes because they are saving the world from the creation of an American empire.
This is no exaggeration. Empire is precisely what is detailed in the Project for a New American Century playbook. As if one was even necessary. As if the organization's very name didn't scream imperialism from the get-go. These are the same people who brought us the Iraq debacle. The same people who have been agitating for this war for a decade. The same people who were calling for attacking Iraq on September 12, 2001. The same people who were so hungry to do so they left Afghanistan an unfinished mess and Osama bin Laden a free man. The same people who carelessly send other people's kids off to fight their war for American hegemony, but never their own.
The whole rest of the world understands this, of course, and has done so from the beginning. Only shallow and intellectually lazy Americans were ever fooled by the Bush administration's palpably deceitful and ridiculously urgent case for war (oh, and cowardly Congressional Democrats - forgive the redundancy in terms - as well). World opinion always opposed this war, rightly perceiving it as no less a case of naked aggression than Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Even after kicking out the jams to hurl every conceivable carrot and stick at often vulnerable UN member-states, BushCo Inc. could never muster more than three other votes (one being the British poodle) out of fifteen Security Council members to fig-leaf its lust for war.
The reason was obvious. There was no case for war. Saddam had never attacked America. Saddam had never threatened America. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and even had hostile relations with al Qaeda. Saddam was sanctioned and boxed-in, lacking control of most of his own national territory. When he had previously used weapons of mass destruction, it had been under American acquiescence, if not sponsorship and supply. The inspectors were finding no evidence of WMD, and thus had to be yanked off-site urgently, before Bush's casus belli was proven the bogus crap that it transparently was anyhow, for anyone who would look.
And, even disregarding all of that, what made Saddam any more immune from the laws of political physics than anybody else? Had he had WMD, he would have well understood that the repercussions of using such weapons against the US would have been the complete and literal atomization of himself and of Iraq. This is no more or no less than the simple concept of deterrence, the fundamental keystone of American defense policy for half a century. It is the same reason the Soviets - with their stockpile of over 20,000 strategic nuclear warheads - never attacked the US, or vice versa. It is the same reason we don't worry that China or Pakistan might attack us today. Why isn't their very real WMD an urgent problem for US security (when Saddam's non-existent arsenal was)? The answer is deterrence (and lies).
In short, the French were right. And every contemptuous insult ugly Americans angrily flung across the Atlantic was a marker of our shame, not theirs. This war was based on a pack of lies, a fact the Downing Street revelations served only to reaffirm for those who had already been paying attention from the beginning.
And so it is that Americans are not dying meaningless deaths in Iraq today, but are heroes in the truest sense of the word. Their sacrifices make clear to all but those dwindling numbers locked in the deepest state of denial just how callous, cowardly, selfish and dishonest is their president. Their sacrifices are driving George Bush's credibility crisis skyward in equal proportion and rapidity to the free fall of his job approval ratings.
What their sacrifices mean, ultimately and crucially, is that Iranians and Syrians and North Koreans and Cubans and Venezuelans (and Americans) don't have to die in the future, as Iraqis and Americans have died in the past.
Because, above all, the sacrifices of these soldiers mean that Americans will no longer follow this infantile Caligula of the New World off on his dress-up soldier's Fun Adventures in (Other People's) Death and Destruction.
Even Americans - so indolent and insolent, so self-reverential, so clueless about the destructive side of their impact in the world - even Americans have now had enough.
The era of George Bush is over. The emperor has no clothes, and everyone can now see it. America is finally awakening, its head pounding and its stomach churning, from the 9/11-induced credulity binge of the last half decade. The shrillness with which the Limbaughs and the O'Reillys attack the truth-speaking mother of a deceased US serviceman is but a measure of their panicked desperation as they watch the wheels coming off the wagon in every imaginable way, and as they stand helpless to stop it. None of the old bad magic works anymore - not the lies, not the diversions, not the endless repetition of hollow slogans, and not the character assassination of White House 'enemies'. Game over.
So rest in peace, brave and noble American soldiers, so vastly the moral superiors of your political superiors. Odd as it may seem, and inadvertent as the effects may be, you have done humane and necessary work in Iraq, despite the disaster it has become and despite the complete disingenuousness of its premise. You have made the supreme sacrifice for the greatest of imaginable purposes. With each of your lives prematurely ended, you bring closer the end of the Bush presidency, and the end of manic American aggression in the world. With your sacrifice in war, you are making peace, no less than your grandfathers did at Normandy or Guam.
It is sad beyond words that it took your lives to stop this juggernaut of greed and violence, but not nearly as sad as what would now be happening had you not given them.
We humbly and gratefully thank you.
David Michael Green can be reached at email@example.com