Each of us has his own favorite quote about the value of writing history. “The victors write it…”but then again, “the Losers write it,” in a minor key.
Our first plan for this post was to throw up our hands in total disgust about the shenanigans surrounding the fall election. Trump lies. Hilary lies. Their surrogates lie. The nation seems to accept this dishonesty with humor and a sense of “why not: everyone does.”
The warp and woof of the country is disintegrating, and in time we come to feel it deserves all the miserable events coming in the future. We had in mind taking a week off, just to clear our head of all the confusion and mendacity that surrounds us like the rising sea. How much outrage, after all, can we manufacture in the face of continuing slander, libel, fibbing, spinning, make-believe. If the nation wants to believe violence is a suitable answer to our times, let it. Regardless of the value of our candidates (very, very low), they are – people continually remind us – the choices of the voters.
Another Trump conspiracy? Another e mail excuse? Forget the assassination ploy. Forget the interweaving of Foundation and State Department. Forget about Bridgegate. It’s tough being outraged daily.
O.K., we might have said, let the walls fall. We’re off to Iceland.
Until yesterday, that is, when we heard a revisionist’s retelling of how we got where we are in the Mid-East.
This was such a mountain of falsehood that, exhausted as we are by all this horse-shit, we found a reserve and depth of outrage beginning to bubble once again, and we couldn’t help ourselves. We feel compelled to “push back.”
Our understanding of the rise of ISIS is as follows, briefly. In 2003, after “Mission Accomplished,” Paul Bremer in Baghdad sent home the entire Iraqi army. That meant that thousands of men in the country had no wages, no jobs, nothing to do, and a lot of frustration, anger, and despair. It was feelings of worthlessness, poverty, and hopelessness combined with ISIS’s recruiting (which was new in 2003) that gave rise to the “counter-insurgency” from which ISIS has grown into an “Islamic state.”
PLEASE NOTE, those who have now revised history: 2003 was EARLY in the first term of George W. Bush, not Barack Obama’s, and long before Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State. As we know, Mr. Trump says he was against the Iraqi war. Mrs. Clinton voted to enter it.
When Mr. Trump the other day decided that Obama and Clinton were the Founders of ISIS, he had to run, jump and slide over facts in order to make his claim. Which is FALSE.
Because he is now – at least for a little while longer – a Republican, Trump opted to concoct another of his impossible-to-refute and equally impossible-to-prove fairy tales that Obama and Clinton are behind, and sanctioned , the rise of ISIS and everything it stands for.
Important dates to remember while listening to Mr. Trump and his defenders: Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009 and Mrs. Clinton named to head The State Department after that.
What that means, folks, even though Republicans are willingly conflating the time frame, is that George W. Bush led the US from 2003 until his second term ended in early 2009. It seems to us that for SIX years – with the singular exception of his fairly successful SURGE of 2007 – Mr. Bush ran the show. Mr. Obama was merely a Senator on the sidelines, as was Mrs. Clinton.
ISIS grew because the powers that be – in the US and in Europe – did not at first believe the organization presented a credible threat to Western civilization. After all, most of NATO and all of the US were separated by water from the Islamic State’s hordes of demented young men. Our eyes were firmly fixed in the middle distance, on Iraq, not along the fringes of radicalism. The very idea that ISIS could radicalize from thousands of miles away was the West’s blind-spot: how could ignorant and unlettered Muslims anywhere present a threat of any ferocity?
George W. Bush and cohorts seemed to have forgotten – even as they continued to guard against its repeat – the fall of the World Trade Center. That, folks, was a lesson taught, in historical terms, two seconds later. Mr. Bush, for all his willingness to stay in hiding and lay low during this campaign, is the FORGOTTEN MAN. Mr. Trump is not going to bring him back to the center of the arena if he can help it. And his followers are beyond, even in moments of quietude when they’re not shouting to imprison Mrs. Clinton, remembering him, as well.
Trump’s legions are interested only in the here-and-now, not the why’s-and-wherefore’s of how we got here. Trump’s crowd is no more able to tell “sarcasm” from reality, a “joke”from seriousness, tan the rest of us.
What the Donald tells them, they believe. As he piles lie upon lie, the country sinks deeper into decrepitude and destruction.
Which is why our capacity for outrage lives still.