Notes From the Margins…

Peter van Buren on the Iraq War

  • March 08, 2013
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‘ I was there. And “there” was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness — and oh yes, it was madness — not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington”s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough. I stood at Ground Zero of what was intended to be the new centerpiece for a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.’

Via Tomdispatch, former State Department official Peter van Buren offers a caustic and devastating analysis of the brutal insanity of the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq.     Some of the events he describes might have been culled straight from the pages of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.

It’s not the kind of stuff that you tend to hear on   Newsnight or the Today programme.   Nor is it the kind of an analysis that is likely to get much thrift from the ‘liberal interventionists’ who have been climbing out of their metropolitan trenches in the last two weeks to tell us the war was all a noble cause and turned out reasonably well considering.

Van Buren’s piece is another reminder that it didn’t really turn out that well at all – and his indictment of the ‘complacent and sleepy media’ which helped make the Iraq invasion possible doesn’t only apply to the United States.

Read it, and marvel at van Buren’s jawdropping account of imperial folly that is unlikely to find much space in the Chilcot Inquiry’s attempt to extract ‘lessons’ from the war – if these efforts ever find their way into print.

And then remember that the architects of this disaster have never been held to account in any way, and that there is absolutely nothing to stop it from happening again.


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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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