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Friday, September 3


For my 1200th post, I had thought of something celebratory.

But then the 1200th post coincided with the official end of the combat phase of Our Imperial Folly in Iraq, and 'celebratory' was not in the cards.

So here goes.

Sometimes when empires die, they go quietly, with little fanfare. The Western Roman Empire 'fell' officially in 476 when Odoacer told the last Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, to go home and not come back. At the time, few noticed (Odoacer was running things anyway), and the date is still considered pretty arbitrary.

The United States had its first imperial experiment immediately after the Spanish-American War, where we found ourselves looking after Spain's former colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Of the three, Puerto Rico is still ours; we have not been asked to leave yet. We gave up the Philippines after World War Two, basically taking a step we had reluctantly been heading towards before the Japanese attacked. Cuba was a nominally independent state, and is now the subject of our continuing ire.

Speaking of Cuba, it may interest many to note that the Castro Government has authorized people to start owning land and allowing "foreign powers" to lease property up to 99 years. With US sanctions still in place, that means that others will gain the benefits of this emerging market, not us.

Our war in Iraq is still going on, and Americans will still be dying for what was essentially ground of no value in the first place.

When the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan, they left in daylight, with the commanding general walking across the border as the last man to leave.

Our last combat unit left under cover of darkness. Two soldiers stood at the Kuwaiti border with flags, and the official Pentagon announcement was the live coverage you saw on the NBC News. That was it.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Wars have changed since WW2. There are no longer any grand peace conferences or clear moments that we can point to and declare, "Here is where it ended." Now wars end ambiguously, with people scratching their heads wondering What The Hell Happened, who's going to pay for it, and who's going to clean up the mess.

We won't ask who won, because we know already.

The Islamic Republic of Iran won. By taking out the only regional counterweight to Iran, we disturbed the balance of power in Southwest Asia. I'm not going to suggest that Israel is capable of stopping Iran, as even the other Arab powers consider the Jewish state less than trustworthy.

Our imperial adventure in Iraq has so far resulted in the loss of $750 Billion dollars that were not ours. We borrowed that money, folks, so that George Bush and his cronies wouldn't have to raise taxes on the rich. The Deficit? Cheney said that deficits don't matter, so what are people like Boehner, Ryan and the others yawping about?

The final word has yet to be said about Iraq, but I will close by saying this:

This war started on bad intentions and false pretenses - there was no way it could have ended otherwise than the way it did.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

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