Monday, March 25, 2013

A soldiers’ forum on Iraq: Bring in Wes Clark, Jim Webb and Larry Wilkerson

By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 3/25/13

At least we’re winning on the Fox Evening news . . . Dad’s gonna kill me. – from Richard Thompson’s driving 2007 ballad on the war in Iraq

Again and again the apologists, those who have not already escaped retribution to the academy or the “think” tank, make the claim that no one challenged the nefarious triumvirate of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and especially George W. Bush although the lies and deceptions were apparent to all. Let’s be specific about the NY Times editors, the Fox news commentators, the appeasing Congressmen and Senators then and now. Lets’ put their pictures on milk cartons.

This week in ten-years hindsight there are many questions asked by journalists and much apologia. There will be many more and much concerned hang-wringing because again, as in the war on Vietnam we, the Americans, did not win. This should not slip away now to denial, to a refusal to take responsibility with pretty blond on blond journalists mindfully agreeing and disagreeing with one another with little bottles of water in their hands. Journalists and editors and Senators and Congressmen specifically bear responsibility for this failure of the American heart and mind. I propose no general absolution and the questions asked be not from other journalists or vaulted senior statesmen of journalism and cardinals of the media’s college, but by veterans of Iraq combat. And the questions asked as Hemingway asked, starting with this one: “Did you every kill a man in anger?” Or have you ever lost a child – a daughter – in combat? Because that is burden we asked our soldiers bear in another war that we did not win. 

Some of the apologia is absolutely stunning. My thought is that we never ever had an impulse to win, but only to punish make a noise in tribal retribution, our soldiers only pawns in another Beltway game. The Huffington Post reports 3/24/13: “Greg Mitchell, author of a recently updated book on media mistakes during the run-up to the Iraq War, So Wrong For So Long, revealed Saturday night on his blog that the Washington Post's Outlook section had killed an assigned piece related to the press debacle that was slated for publication this weekend.”

In all of the press apologies I have read there was never a mention of four whom I followed closely at the time who gave precise predictions on the war and its aftermath: General Wesley Clark, who ran for President in 2004 in opposition to the war on Iraq, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who also served as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff and Gary Hart, former Colorado Senator and presidential candidate. These four, three of whom had distinguished military careers, virtually railed against the invasion. Let’s start with them- lets’s start with soldiers -  in a commission to investigate the origins and advancement of the war in Iraq.

Because the legacy of Vietnam is the black flag still waving in every town in America and the Rolling Thunder of Vietnam veterans who refuse to die in infamy. Those who served then know what happened in Vietnam and they know what happened to them. The women and men of Iraq combat must lead and take this issue for themselves. They must get to the core of cowardice, deception and appeasement which brought them home to ennui and deception. These veterans, the men and women of Iraq, who lost eye and limb in harm’s way must and will bring our country forward for if they do not we will not go forward.

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