Today marks the beginning, five years ago, with "Shock and Awe" that the liberation of Iraq began. There are too many articles in too many media to list or read on this anniversary but here's a place to start and someday over a root beer we can have a discussion on how growing up in the shadow of the Manhattan skyscrapers, across the river in Jersey, influences what newspapers you read and which ones you trust. Being almost 56 years old and realizing I've learned next to nothing about myself, or anyone for whom I care, I'm not sure what I think, hope or pray we might learn about ourselves as we look back at what is the first five years of the Last War on Earth.
I came across a reference earlier this morning to The Thirty Years War which, for a moment, I found comforting until I realized the name is a tag developed by historians long after its end and NOT by the leaders who provoked it or the soldiers who fought it. I couldn't help but smile to read in one of the descriptive summaries, I could choose the long or short version (I am assuming, of the narrative).
This will sound cynical, and I'd apologize for that, but it's not like you didn't already realize it, but even the critics of President George W Bush (and he has a had a few of those) would have to concede he didn't underestimate how this would play out, at least not when he described, five years ago, an enemy the likes of which the world had not yet seen. An implacable foe that would slit a woman's throat to advance its agenda. I'm not sure he didn't nail the landing in that description.
I don't know how to negotiate with sharks, and I've been to Sea World. I'm old enough, as I've noted on other pages, to see Southwest Asia as Vietnam with sand instead of rice paddies. Does that mean My Lai and LT William Calley have been replaced by Abu Ghraib and Lynndie England? That's not what frightens me so much as we're not ready to acknowledge that the 'monster label' we conveniently place on them, and others (actually, a variety of denigrating terms for everyone with whom we disagree) makes it easier for us to 'deal with them' and NOT have to interact with one another and own the consequences of those actions and inactions.
It took two decades longer to get here than Orwell feared in 1984, but that brighter tomorrow has finally arrived for this province of Airstrip One, and I just hope we live long enough to appreciate it.
When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. And while I love W.B. Yeats' Slouching Towards Bethlehem it is with growing unease that re-read lines of his poem: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world......Surely the Second Coming is at hand. " I wonder if he's drawn a map or created a souvenir book of where we already are.
The Rand Corporation has offered, online, a cleverly entitled attempt at a way ahead (use of the indefinite article is deliberate on my part) War By Other Means, that can perhaps be made into a motion picture to be shown at Redford's Sun Dance Film Festival or on Gore's Current TV, starring Sean Penn and George Clooney. Hell, we can watch it on a plasma screen in the back seat of a stretch Hummer limo while chatting about whatever with some BFF on our I-phone.
We don't know what 'victory' in this endless war looks like. Maybe it's the Stars and Stripes flying from a minaret on a mosque in Baghdad, but I suspect not. In the maze we've created as life here on earth, we keep moving the cheese. When we reach the day when we don't remember what life looked like before this date five years ago, or 09/11/01 or the Nairobi Embassy Bombing, or Khobar Towers or the USMC compound in Beirut, what then? Reboot?
There are too many homefires burning and not enough trees.