Ten years after

19 03 2013

You know what this is about, right?


March 19, 2003-March 19, 2013.

Financial cost: $812,067, 323,000—and counting.

Cost to to US soldiers: 4487 killed, 32,223 seriously wounded, 30 percent of all who served developed serious mental problems shortly after returning home

Costs to Iraqi civilians: estimates of numbers killed range from over 100,000 to over 600,000

(And much more here)

Removal of murderous dictator: done

Democracy established: ???

Number of nuclear weapons found: 0

Evidence of links to Al Qaeda found: none

Former Vice President Dick Cheney thinks it was all worth it.


I marched against the first Gulf War in 1990, unsure whether it was necessary, worried about the fight I was sure the Iraqi army would give to the US. We’d win, I remember musing to my friends T & S, but it could be bad.

It was bad, but not in the way I thought it would be.

So endeth my venture into confident predictions about complex events.


I was in Montreal when the planes were hijacked, crashed. I got into an argument either that afternoon or the next morning with a colleague’s girlfriend over the innocence of the US, over ‘who started it’, how it would end.

At least, I think that’s what we argued about; I could be wrong. I do remember the director of my program murmuring that it was perhaps too soon to be voicing such opinions.

I don’t remember if I responded that it would be too late it if I waited, or if I just thought that.


The US wouldn’t attack Iraq, would it? Really? Isn’t it obvious this whole thing is ginned up? What the hell is in the water down there? Has everyone gone mad?


January is not the best month in Montreal in which to march around outdoors for hours, and then stand and listen to speeches for awhile longer.

But hundreds of thousands of us did, more than once. If you looked through the side streets from Ste. Catherine you could see the people streaming past in the other direction up boulevard René-Lévesque.

Some of us carried signs, some of us carried children, some, candles. We shouted and sang and chanted in French and English and Spanish and Arabic and Hebrew and we could all hear one another, but none of it mattered.

We froze our asses off for peace and none of it mattered.


Why didn’t more people listen to the skeptics, the peace-mongerers, the critics?

They didn’t like our puppets. We said mean things about Bush. We were leftists. We were anti-American. We were against all wars. We were nobodies. We were rude. And smelly. And played drums.

I mean, if the people against war play drums, that’s certainly a good reason to support war, isn’t it?


Those who were right about the war were dismissed for having been right.

Who was against the war? cry those who were for the war. How could we have known? We were too emotional, too caught up in war fever.

Why did no one speak?

What else did you expect?

So we were wrong, but we were right for having been wrong.

And those who were right? Well, they could have been wrong.



There are no lessons—no, wait, too many lessons, none of which will be learned.

The wrong have “moved on”. Those who admit they were wrong are cleansed by the admission; those who don’t, blame those who were right.

Lessons? There are no lessons.

There’s only next time.




7 responses

20 03 2013

It seemed like the left did learn one lesson- you can’t just have a big protest and go home the next day. We learned you have to stick it out until they finally drag you away, like Occupy did, if you really want to make a difference. That might not have deterred Bush though. Probably would have resulted in some Occupiers being shipped of to Guantanamo.

20 03 2013

remind me what was the difference that Occupy made in public policy?
it will be interesting to see how things go under Chuck Hagel, I actually think that like with the prison system the cost$ will start to split the conservatives leaving the hawks (we need a less noble name for those monsters) with less support

20 03 2013

We didn’t end up with the austerity budget that most of Europe got. At least, not until 2013.

20 03 2013

so Occupy was about reelecting Obama? I missed that part of their platform….

20 03 2013

How do you mean?

20 03 2013

I think we ought to use protests to draw people in—and then get down to the work. Occupy Sandy did far more for NYC than did Occupy Wall Street, and the Occupiers in the rest of the country seem to have the most effect when they aim their efforts toward those they want to help rather than those they want to topple.

As for anti-war protests, well, as I noted in my follow-up post, that’s one area where protest may not matter. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protest, if only as a signal flare in the night, but we should recognize that, really, we were marching for ourselves.

10 04 2013

As much as I hate to say it, I agree with your last point. Even more, I suspect that many people who march then go home and return to their daily lives. Perhaps, even, they forget about the marching the next time they vote, voting instead for the candidate who will serve their interests the best (which, of course, is human nature).

Really, though, the giant paper mache puppets should go… 🙂

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