Iraq War failure portrayed as success
On 19 November 2005 a US marine squad was struck by a roadside bomb in Haditha, in Iraq’s Anbar province, killing one soldier and seriously injuring two others. According to civilians they then went on the rampage, slaughtering 24 people. They included a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair and a three-year-old child. It was a massacre.
When he heard the news, Major General Steve Johnson, the American commander in Anbar province at the time, saw no cause for further examination. “It happened all the time … throughout the whole country.”
Eight soldiers were originally charged with the atrocity. Charges against six were dropped, one was acquitted and the other is awaiting trial. A New York Times article ran on the same day that Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of American troops last week, hailing the almost nine-year war a “success”, resulting in “an extraordinary achievement” that the troops can look on “with their heads held high”.
And so it is that America moves on, holding nobody accountable and choosing to understand defeat as victory and failure as success.
A recent CBS poll asked: “Do you think removing Saddam Hussein from power was worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq, or not?” (50% no, 41% yes), and “Do you think the result of the war with Iraq was worth the loss of American lives and other costs of attacking Iraq, or not?” (67% no, 24% yes). The cost to Iraqis simply does not feature.
“It is the end for the Americans only,” wrote Emad Risn, argued an Iraqi columnist in a government-funded newspaper. “Nobody knows if the war will end for Iraqis too.” And few Americans seem to care.
While the departure of American troops should be greeted with guarded relief (guarded because the US will maintain its largest embassy in the world there along with thousands of armed private contractors), … nobody has been held accountable; few accept responsibility.