Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Iraq war and the banality of evil among our ruling elites and intelligentsia

Remember the illegal destruction of Iraq?
(Salon.com) -- By Glenn Greenwald --

British political news has been consumed for the last several weeks by a formal inquiry into the illegality and deceit behind Tony Blair's decision to join the U.S. in invading Iraq. Today, Blair himself is publicly testifying before the investigative commission and is being grilled about numerous false claims he made in the run-up to the war, not only about Iraqi weapons programs (his taxi-cab-derived "45-minutes-to-launch!!" warning) and Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda, but also about secret commitments he made to join the U.S. at a time when he and Bush were still pretending that they were undecided and awaiting the outcome of the U.N. negotiations and the inspection process...

The invasion of Iraq was unquestionably one of the greatest crimes of the last several decades. Imagine what future historians will say about it -- a nakedly aggressive war launched under the falsest of pretenses, in brazen violation of every relevant precept of law, which destroyed an entire country, killed huge numbers of innocent people, and devastated the entire population. Have we even remotely treated it as what it is? We're willing to concede it was a "mistake" -- a good-natured and completely understandable lapse of judgment -- but only the shrill and unhinged among us call it a crime. As always, it's worth recalling that Robert Jackson, the lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, insisted in his Closing Argument against the Nazi war criminals that "the central crime in this pattern of crimes" was not genocide or mass deportation or concentration camps; rather, "the kingpin which holds them all together, is the plot for aggressive wars." History teaches that aggressive war is the greatest and most dangerous of all crimes -- as it enables even worse acts of inhumanity -- and illegal, aggressive war is precisely what we did in Iraq, to great devastation.

I'm periodically criticized for an "angry" tone in my writing, which I always find mystifying. I genuinely don't understand why anger should be avoided or even how it could be. What other reaction is possible when one looks around and sees the government leaders who committed these grave crimes completely unburdened by any accountability and treated as respectable dignitaries, or watches the Tom Friedmans, Jeffrey Goldbergs, Fred Hiatts and other unrepentent leading media propagandists who helped enable it still feted as Serious and honest experts, or beholds the current Cabinet and Senate filled with people who supported it, or observes the Michael O'Hanlons and Les Gelbs and other Foreign Policy Community luminaries who lent trans-partisan credence to it all continue to traipse around still pompously advocating for more wars that never touch their lives?

A few months ago, I did an MSNBC segment with Dan Senor, who is currently a Fox News contributor, author of a new book hailing the greatness of Israeli innovations, a recent addition to the Council on Foreign Relations, and husband of CNN anchor Campbell Brown. But back in 2003 and 2004, he was Chief Spokesman for the "Coalition Provisional Authority" in Iraq -- the U.S. occupying force in that country. Sitting in the green room with him before the segment, I was really disgusted by the paradox that one is supposed to treat him as just some random political adversary deserving of standard civility, respect and respectability -- in other words, a Decent Person is supposed to forget that he was an official who enabled and lied about some of the most monstrous acts of the last many years and is wholly unrepentent. And, of course, he was going on MSNBC that day to opine about our current foreign policy options: direct involvement in this horrific crime is no disqualifying factor; it's not even a black mark against someone's credibility and reputation...MORE...LINK

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