The tenth "anniversary" of the the initial assault on Iraq passed by without a comment from this humble blog. Maybe I've lived with the war so much in the past decade that the years have simply fused together into what seems like a never-ending present. No matter that American troops no longer occupy Iraq--we have plenty of foreign engagements to keep ourselves, our adversaries and plenty of unlucky non-combatants bleeding for years to come.
Focusing on the Iraq war misses the point. Rather than some new and surprising initiative, the US invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation were simply the follow-on to a decade of sanctions. Those actions were part of America's arc of hegemony that began after World War II and saw a host of interventions and military action around the world including Vietnam, the war that gave me my own personal introduction to combat. So rather than seeing Iraq as some unique event, I view it as an act within a long-running play. Or maybe a play within a play as in Hamlet.
As a Baby Boomer, war has been a constant in my life. Not war as experienced by the targets of American policy--no one ever fired at me in my home, on my way to school or during any of the daily activities that were typical of life in America in the 50's and 60's. Still, war was part of the landscape. We all expected Soviet bomber or ICBMs sooner or later. Even as that threat receded, Vietnam took center stage. And following Vietnam, came Ronnie the Popular and more threats of nuclear war followed by a host of covert wars. About the only thing unique in the Iraq war was the open aggression and the constant wear and tear on a small, volunteer military.
And, of course, Iraq is "over" (for most Americans, at least) but we still have Afghanistan, Pakistan,Yemen, sub-Saharan Africa and anyplace else where someone yells "Death to America!" Barack Obama has certainly been no improvement over CheneyBush in that regard. So looking back at March 2003 as something entirely new in American policy ignores seven decades of American war-making.
So I take the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion as something to be noted in the context of "the beat goes on". More catastrophic than previous actions, certainly, but nothing entirely new. Still, much about Iraq should be remembered; Tom Englehardt has a good summary of the many things that most Americans have either forgotten or never paid much attention to--all worth remembering if we are ever to move America from a militarized to a civilian economy but more than likely will be ignored as successive administrations hype the fear that has turned the supposedly mightiest nation on earth into a paranoid giant, shooting at everything that moves.