Nelson: 'We meant well' isn't going to cut it
It appears that we will have to accept the notion of a majority of Americans' invincible ignorance. We are so steeped in militarism and war lust that we refuse to inform ourselves or pay the slightest heed to history. The more communicative devices we have, the more ignorant we are of what matters.
Left, right, and in-between, we justify the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a powerful force in the Iranian government and military. He was a bad man, you see, and despite still-valid presidential orders against assassinating leaders of other nations we went ahead anyway. We are told he was a terrorist. Yet the principal terrorist nation in the Mideast is Saudi Arabia, which has supported Sunni militias including those who fought and killed American soldiers in Iraq. It has also wreaked havoc and death on Yemen. But the Saudis are our allies, thus we countenance their sins.
Numbers can be boring but are necessary for understanding. Perhaps a brief look at America's interventions might be useful: 147,000 dead in Afghanistan and counting; 182,000 Iraqi civilians killed by both sides in a war we started; 400,000 Syrians in a war we helped sponsor; thousands in Libya (estimates vary widely); around 1,000 soldiers and 500 civilians in Serbia, ad infinitum. Who is the major carrier of death and suffering, us or Iran? Spare us the cant about how “we meant well.”
The initial charge justifying Soleimani's killing was his “imminent” threat of attack against four of our embassies. That accusation was proven false by Secretary of Defense Esper's admission that there is no hard evidence of such a plot, by Secretary of State Pompeo's urging President Trump to kill Soleimani months ago (the meaning of “imminent” having apparently slipped warmongers' minds), and other evolving rationales for why we murdered him. The irony here is that Soleimani was instrumental in fighting ISIL (the Islamic State), a point both Hillary Clinton and Trump made. The latter in fact noted that ISIL and Iran are mutual enemies and that we and Iran “should work together on this.”
Why was Iran involved in Iraq to begin with? Because our invasion of Iraq under the aegis of lies overthrew its Sunni elite, including Saddam Hussein who fought Shiite Iran. Naturally, although our federal leaders are too dense to think anything through, the rise of the Iraqi Shiites dovetailed with Shiite Iran. In case liberals and conservatives are unable to follow this simple thread, let's be clear: Our invasion of Iraq (the Nuremberg tribunals specifically named aggressive war the Nazis' main evil) is responsible for Iranian influence with their new-found ally. And because we waged aggressive war in Iraq, Iraqis and their allies had every legal and moral right to resist.
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We have learned nothing and worse, are unwilling to learn. From talk show hosts Jay Thomas to Rush Limbaugh, from the political left to right, from retired General Haugen of North Dakota's Air and Army National Guard to the “perfumed princes” (Colonel David Hackworth's phrase) in the Pentagon, our reaction is to bomb first, learn last, and praise heaven for allowing us to be the self-appointed sword of justice.