Back in 2003 the words “quagmire” and “end game” were on everyone’s lips – 17 years later the world has been forcefully reminded that the Western war on Iraq has still not ended.
The globally condemned assassination of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani is not part of a “new” war on Iran – it is crucial history in the “old” war on Iraq.
However, fomenting “new war” hysteria with Iran permits the United States to avoid reckoning with the Iraqi proofs of their illegal negligence, hypocrisy and brutality. Looking for a new war with Iran is essentially the lamentable historical continuation of Washington’s multi-century policy of, “On to the next tribe of Indian nomads”.
But it goes even deeper than that:
No American would deny that the Vietnam War changed the very nature of American democracy. Certainly, the slaying of Soleimani is the most shocking military action in many years, and thus it fundamentally alters and magnifies how the Iraq War is changing the very nature of American democracy, still.
If World War II was a sober affair, with many Americans genuinely believing in the war’s ideals of anti-fascism, Vietnam certainly was not. The widespread rejection of this fanatically ideological war – the “domino theory” of the spreading of “sinister” socialism – ultimately only produced a “pop cultural revolution”. There was no civic and political revolution because there was no reform of institutions which had proven to lack a democratic mandate.
However, if Vietnam resulted in the average American’s open and persistent refusal to believe their government – which was an important historical first for the US – the Iraq War will prove to have been when the average American retained this same correct skepticism but became unable to publicly admit their disbelief.
The Iraq War ushered in a new culture of lying for America, where Americans knew they were peddling total falsehoods, and knew that their listeners knew their claims were falsehoods, but there was a collective agreement to keep spreading these falsehoods anyway.
This is how we get to the point where somebody like Soleimani – who had bravely and unequivocally been an anti-terrorist hero – is publicly accused of being a “terrorist” by American leadership.
Because Washington’s goals are so imperialist, so rabidly capitalist and so fueled by feudal realpolitik, instead of acknowledging how Soleimani’s leading of the fight against ISIL saved many innocent European and American lives (and even the lives of the mercenary “contractors” from these nations), US Vice-President Mike Pence now absurdly says Soleimani was a part of 9/11. Trump says he is justified to plan bombings of “cultural sites”, even though everyone knows he means mosques. Secretary of State Pompeo says the mob hit was “protecting American interests”, even though the only Americans truly pleased are also Israeli Zionists.
In the Vietnam era Americans said en masse that they don’t believe nonsense like this, but the Iraq War has changed American democracy – now many Americans feel compelled to say they believe it… but they actually don’t.
To believe that Americans truly believe the endless lies of their post-2003 governments is to assume that Americans are either deluded or mentally disabled, and neither are true: Americans know they are poorly governed but now feel powerless to resist the injustice of their own leaders.
Therefore, just as they were marched to war in 2003 even though it was clearly based on the lie of WMDs, the Pentagon and US Deep State are hoping they can start a war with Iran based on more preposterous lies, such as the murder of anti-terror hero Soleimani being justified because he was a “terrorist”.
They have a lot of help: Republicans, right-wing pundits and liberal “objective” American journalists all dutifully report the fantastic lies of the Bush II, Obama and Trump administrations as though they are – maybe – true. The US claims to have a free press but for 17 years they have rarely dared to question their leaders with the same rigour as in the era of Vietnam. However, all these people are paid with either money or power to say these things – please do not believe that the average American, 44% of whom qualify as low-wage workers, has any incentive to believe in or continue a system which punishes them ever-more mercilessly since the start of the Great Recession.
Such workers now have “few prospects of improving their lot” except by publicly playing along with the fictions of the US 1%. Thus the fundamental change to America democracy wrought by 17 years of Iraq War is that in order to “live the American dream” one must openly embrace a “false life”. This is a twist, and one which does not resort to vulgarity, of a new idea making the rounds across the Western mainstream media: their endemic socio-economic hopelessness has created widespread “s—-life syndrome”.
The Trump era is the apex (at least one hopes) of this “false life” reality of 21st century US society.
Trump himself is certainly not crazy but he is undoubtedly a liar. Pompeo himself openly revealed the sad degeneration of American dishonesty: “… when I was a cadet – what’s the cadet motto at West Point? (West Point is the number one military prep school in the US) ‘You will not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.’ I was the CIA director – we lied, we cheated, we stole. That’s – it was like – we had entire training courses.”
Bush I was a former CIA director, so it’s not as if Pompeo really represents a new development in US neo-fascism (it is “neo” because open US Apartheid is over), but my point here is that prior to Vietnam such things were never openly admitted anywhere in the US; during Vietnam the truth of the anti-democratic nature of the US was hotly debated; during the Iraq War the US government’s foundation of criminality is openly admitted at the very top… and no one cares.
In an era when every American is tracked – from credit scores, to the location of their cell phone, to what they wrote on the internet 15 years ago – and people can be droned at will, the average American has no choice to but to pretend that they are going along with it all. It is not all Trump and Pompeo – the executive powers, which reduce the American system to investing a dictator’s powers in the presidency, were installed by Bush II and increased by Barack “Dronebama” Obama.
The system has spread to their neo-imperial allies, as proven by France’s 2-year state of emergency, the “French Patriot Act”, and current President Emmanuel “Rubber Bullet President” Macron, who forces through sweeping American-style economic changes via executive order. “False life syndrome” is thus a Western phenomenon, and not only that of their American leader.
The epidemic expansion of “false life syndrome” which began in 2003 is also behind the pathetic, woefully unfair reason Soleimani is now dead:
The Democratic Party elite refused to admit the real reasons for their democratic unpopularity, so they concocted a diversionary Russophobia campaign as well as a campaign to impeach Trump (i.e., to undemocratically reverse the election). In 2020, to distract from this month’s expected impeachment vote Trump killed Soleimani. It’s more “false life” syndrome, because everyone knows the impeachment is the emptiest of politics as Trump is certain to be acquitted. “Think of the contrast,” top House Republican Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter. “While Democrats are trying to remove President Trump from office, the President is focused on removing terrorists from the face of the earth.” In an election year Trump needed another WMD-like falsity to perpetuate, knowing full well that it would be publicly promoted by many, and he so he murdered Soleimani.
What a crying injustice that an anti-terror hero died in large part because of immoral, domestically despised, primary school-level US domestic politics!
Soleimani was killed to preserve US capitalism-imperialist domination of the Muslim World above all, but the dishonest, unreflective political farce which has reigned since 2003 in America is the leading secondary factor.
Everybody in the world knows this modern truth: Washington defines a terrorist as “someone who disagrees with Washington and Wall Street”. Be you Iranian, Iraqi, a journalist like Julian Assange or an average American – oppose US neo-imperialism and neoliberalism and you will be treated as a terrorist.
I am certain that the average American realizes this obvious subtext to these slanderous, absurdly false claims against anti-terror hero Soleimani, but it is 2020 and not 1970 – it seems you can’t expect the truth from a huge number of Americans anymore?
Maybe we can after the US finally leaves Iraq?
By Ramin Mazaheri