The Year of Living Ironically
Teachers and writers sometimes comment that irony is a concept remarkable for its refusal to be pinned down. Thanks, as always, to the tireless contributions of Americans, however, we at last have the definitive illustration.
Consider the following two quotes:
Quote 1: Movie theaters have been closed, the … television station has been shut down, the playing of music banned…. Women with jobs have been told to stay at home, and ordered when venturing out to wear a full chaderi, a gown that covers a woman from head to toe, allowing her to see only through a tightly woven face mask. On Sunday there were several instances reported in which [women were stopped on the streets and beaten], accusing them of not covering their entire bodies. The mullahs … are introducing the capital to Sharia, the harsh Islamic criminal code that prescribes … amputation of hands for thieves and flogging for the consumption of liquor.”
Quote 2: [R]eligious parties have been transforming the city into an Islamic fief…. Militias have driven alcohol sellers off the streets. Women are harassed if they walk the streets in anything less than head-to-toe black. Conservative judges are invoking Shariah in some courts….. “We don’t want to see equality between men and women because according to Islamic law, men should have double of women,” said a spokesman for [one of the city’s most politically active clerics]…. [More than a year ago], the 25-member Governing Council voted in a private session to repeal a relatively secular family law and replace it with Shariah…. Moktada al-Sadr, the young firebrand cleric who has led uprisings against … Americans, wants Islam enshrined as the national religion and Shariah recognized as the law of the state.
The first quote comes from the New York Times of 1 October 1996 and describes the Taliban in Afghanistan. The second is from today’s Times (6 February 2005) and describes the Shiite majority, in control of the Iraqi government after the recent elections, which is now preparing to write a constitution that enshrines Shariah.
And so, in that lovely way things have of coming full circle, we’ve replaced one repressive regime with another one. But hey, c’mon: We had a few laughs, we got to travel, and we opened up one giant can of Whoop Ass on the world.
Or, as Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded Marine expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq, put it during a panel discussion on February 3rd, “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
And all it cost us to bring this Nintendo game to life was $153,096,893,926 (that’s as of the moment in which I’m writing; the cost increases by about a thousand dollars a second) – enough to hire nearly three million public-school teachers for a year, to give seven and a half million students full scholarships to four-year universities, or to fund the ENTIRE PLANET’s anti-hunger efforts for six years.
Of course, that’s just if we’re talking money. The civilian body count in Iraq is estimated at more than 15,000 – or at more than 100,000, if you believe Lancet’s statistical calculation of the “probable and conservative” number of Iraqi casualties.
And while we’re on the subject, I wonder why it is that we cannot actually know precisely where the “true” number lies between 15,000 and 100,000. We’re paying for those bodies. How come we can’t know how many there are?
As for American military casualties, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Even before the invasion of Iraq, General Tommy Franks of U.S. Central Command clearly stated: “We don’t do body counts.” Later, no less an intellect than Barbara Bush weighed in with her helpful observation that she didn’t see why she should waste her “beautiful mind” thinking about things like dead soldiers, all of which helps explain why it’s so difficult to find out how many Americans have been killed in Iraq. No kidding: Do a search on the ‘Net and see if you can figure it out. The number of American military dead seems to stand at 1000 or thereabouts, but if you want a total of dead military, civilian, and coalition workers, you’ll have to do your own math. No one’s making it easy for us to know this number.
I find it interesting, by the way, that the American military death toll published by the Pentagon in January 2005 includes, in the number of “NonCombat Deaths,” forty suicides. That’s a story you won’t be seeing on Fox News.
But I digress. We were talking about irony. Specifically, about the irony of invading a country and deposing its leader, in part because he oppressed his people, in order to install an elected government whose intention is to … wait for it … oppress its people.
This is what Americans have been fighting and dying for. This is the democracy we were promised and the “freedom” that that evil, rat bastard of a liar kept talking about in his State of the Union address. We’ve bankrupted our nation and spent to the last cent whatever goodwill and credibility we had in the world, we invaded a country that had not harmed us, and we sent a thousand Americans (only a thousand?) to Iraq to die alongside tens of thousands of Iraqis.
And what we got for billions of dollars and a warehouse full of flag-covered coffins is this: Taliban II, Iraq Strikes Back. We waited in vain for those WMD that were supposed to justify the invasion. And then we waited in vain for the elections that were supposed to justify the cost and loss of life.
After Army Pfc. James Miller IV was killed in Iraq on January 30th while guarding a polling place in Ramadi, the ultra-red-state Cincinnati Post spun it this way: “Miller died trying to protect Iraqis who were risking their own lives to do something that most of us take for granted: vote in a democratic election.”
But let’s finish the sentence: Vote in a democratic election so that the majority of voters could choose leaders who specifically reject democracy as a form of government and favor, instead, a religious state run not by elected representatives but by clerics.
James Miller was had. His family was had and we’ve been had.
Write this down: that is irony.