What would George Orwell say about the US withdrawal from Iraq? By Hannah Gurman on August 13, 2010… From our friends at War in Context. Please visit their site and sign up for their email alerts, click here.
- As the Second World War drew to a close, George Orwell looked back on the various prognoses of war and peace that had emerged in recent years:“All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way,” he observed. “People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”Over the next several years, Orwell would elaborate a dystopian vision of the emerging Cold War, a vision in which warring superpowers would use distorted and self-serving political rhetoric to battle each other and their citizens.
In recent weeks, we have reached another historic juncture. The Iraq War, or at least the American military’s role in it, is drawing to a symbolic close. To mark this moment, the U.S. Ministry of Information has put its spin machine in high gear. Orwell would have had a field day with this one. He could not have invented a more Orwellian tale than the actual story of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Here is the official version, championed in its earlier moments by Bush, Petraeus, and other congressional hawks, and now trumpeted almost as loudly by the White House and State Department: Violence is down. Iraqis are finally (it’s about time, guys) taking responsibility for their own security. The March elections were a great step forward. Iraq, we can safely say, is on the path to a brighter future.
This story marks the last chapter in the surge narrative that took root in 2006, a narrative in which General David Petraeus is credited with turning the war around. Proponents of this story know better than to declare victory, a word that has largely fallen out of the official lexicon. But the word success, which has taken its place, is everywhere. And while it doesn’t quite afford that nationalist sense of superiority to which Americans have long been accustomed, success does provide a certain contentment and satisfaction over a job well done. It allows for that perennial optimism that never quite goes out of fashion in the American way of war.
It is telling though not surprising that Obama chose a military audience to deliver his official remarks on the nominal end of America’s seven-year occupation of Iraq. Like all American, and especially all Democratic presidents, Obama rarely misses a moment to pay tribute to the troops — perhaps the only thing that no loyal American can question regardless of how unjust the wars America fights may be. “As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq,” President Obama declared, “a grateful America must pay tribute to all who served there.”
There is nothing fundamentally new in this story. It is just the latest version of a longstanding nationalist narrative in which, no matter how the story begins, the U.S. always ends up on the right side of history. For the most loyal devotees of this narrative, even Vietnam is not an exception. Were it not for that cheap congress, those pesky journalists, and those traitorous anti-war activists, they insist, we would’ve won that war too. Never mind that we had allied ourselves with a corrupt government that cared little about the people of Vietnam. Never mind that the enemy saw this as just the latest in a decades-long war against foreign occupiers. Never mind that, as Daniel Ellsberg has said, we were not just “on the wrong side” of this war. “We were the wrong side.”
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From Dawn.com, read the rest of the following story, click here:
- SIGULDA, Latvia: World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Friday that the worst floods in Pakistan in decades were likely to have destroyed crops in the country worth around $1 billion.The floods, triggered by torrential monsoon downpours, have swamped Pakistan’s Indus river basin, killing more than 1,600 people, forcing two million from their homes and disrupting the lives of about 14 million people.
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WikiLeaks preparing to release more Afghan files
By RAPHAEL G. SATTER and ANNE FLAHERTY – 21 hours ago
LONDON — WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange said Thursday his organization is preparing to release the rest of the secret Afghan war documents it has on file. The Pentagon warned that would be more damaging to security and risk more lives than the organization’s initial release of some 76,000 war documents.
Tags: 14 Million displaced from flood, 15, Afghanistan, End the war, George Orwell, Iraq, Pakistan, Pakistan flood, President Obama doublespeak, W. and Obama more of the same, Wikileaks, Wikileaks 15, Wikileaks documents, Withdrawal from Iraq, World Bank