As everything the opposition predicted about Iraq comes true--the endless insurgency, the rise of theocratic rule, the rise in Iranian influence, the squandering of American resources, the squandering of American prestige, the squandering of American soldiers, the civil war no one dares to call a civil war, the civilian slaughter, the chaos that spreads across the Middle East like a plague from an ancient time--I'm throwing myself into the briar patch here by making yet another prediction. It's a habit I generally prefer to steer clear of--predicting. On paper, at least. As those in the Bush administration should know by now--but probably don't since they seem incapable of learning anything new--there's nothing that can haunt your future quite like a past prediction.
But it's not such a huge risk I'm taking, since it concerns what to expect from the Right as it becomes increasingly clear that Iraq is lost. Face it, the Right is as predictable as poop from a goose. Sure, some of them, particularly the younger ones, try their damnedest to be unpredictable--and by "unpredictable," I mean fun. Zany. Puckish. Brash. Wascally wight-wingers.
By the time it all gets through the reality strainer, though, it's the same old poop, isn't it? No matter how the Right says it, no matter how brash they are in the presentation, no matter how zany and puckish they may appear to be--especially to those mushy-minded souls who keep the Limbaugh/O'Reilly/Hannity freak show in business--it really all boils down to the simplest of messages: "It's the liberals' fault!"
Take Ann Coulter ... I truly believe she truly believes being an abrasive bitch is somehow cute. I think she sees herself as the Cyndi Lauper of the quasi-fascist circuit. Or like feisty Mary Richards doing that perky thing with her hat, I think when Coulter throws zingers like "Liberals are either traitors or idiots" into the air, she considers herself not just smart, not just pithy, not just feisty, but that she thinks she's being sexy. Sexy ... you know ... in a perky way. I think she is such a sad little doll, endlessly performing her sad little act for the tired queens of the conservative burlesque, that she will go to her final rest, quite convinced she was loved for herself.
And hasn't Coulter, with all her desperate theatrics, had only one song to sing, no matter how many ways she's sung it? ("It's the liberals' fault!") I pick her out as the focus here because I regard her as the glaring, infected white head of the larger propaganda carbuncle, and I expect she is already doing what the rest of them will be soon--that is, blaming Democrats for Bush's utter failure in Iraq. (Someone with a stronger stomach than mine will have to see what she's up to at the present time. She creeps me out so thoroughly that I'd rather take the chance of being wrong than examine whatever she's had to say recently. Sorry, but if Ann Coulter is sexy, then vomit is appetizing.)
Of course, in a hundred years, when Iraq is a barely remembered social experiment the British began in 1920 and the Bush screw-up crew obliterated 90-ish-years later, nobody important will blame the liberals. I imagine there will still be a festering sector of neo-neo-cons, trying to reshape historical perspective in order to make whatever poison they'll be selling then sound a little sweeter.
But time has a way of affirming progressive values and history favors the side of those who said what will become obvious in hindsight. So I'm not concerned about what the consensus on Iraq will be in another century. Bush's legacy was determined the moment he used false justifications to start a real war.
For the next 30 years, though, as Iraq dissolves into a kaleidoscope of fractured sectarian fiefdoms--then as Turkey descends into civil war and repression when their Kurds demand to be partitioned into the fledgling Kurdish state--then as ex-Iraqi Shia's demand to be part of Iran's Shia circle--and on and on and on--expect to hear the tattered remnants of the Bush retinue evermore insistently claim it was the liberals who created such a confusion by not shutting their mouths when Bush set about to baptize the world.
That is my prediction: that those who did it will deny any responsibility for doing it and that it was all our fault when Bush couldn't accomplish the unaccomplishable. That if we--those of us with a dollop of history in our brains and the brains to put it in--had only shown the iron will of brainless Bush, had only kept our informed opinions to ourselves, had only united behind the president in his ignorant determination, had only not predicted such a bleak outcome ... then Iraq would have turned out a happy, happy place. Sort of like Texas ... only without Molly Ivins.
I pick 30 years for a reason. It's been 30-ish years since we lost that war in another place we didn't belong, and the farther we come from that defeat, the more we are being told it was liberals who caused it. That it was liberals who weakened the national will to wage war with whatever level of savagery it took to win. That it was liberals who kept insisting a civilized nation mustn't behave like the hawks insisted we must. That because there were dissenting voices, the Vietnamese enemy was encouraged, emboldened. Abetted, even.
Which is all horsehooey. Thirty years ago, at the time it was finally over, the thinking Americans knew good and well why we lost. We lost that war because the Vietnamese enemy knew exactly what they were fighting for, and we didn't. We lost that war because we shouldn't have been in it in the first place.
Yet the obvious truth has never been a high priority to the Right, so don't expect them to trouble themselves with it now. I'm willing to admit I may be wrong about the future of Iraq, what with all the fractured fiefdoms and all. I'm even willing to admit there may some day be an Iraq that resembles what Bush keeps telling us he is trying to achieve--that Iraqis themselves may show more civilized behavior than this administration is capable of by pulling themselves and their country out of the chaos Bush has created.
But I stand by my prediction about us being blamed for their mess. Thirty ... maybe even 40 years ... it will go on. Until all of us who argue about it now are gone. Until whatever monument we erect to our war dead is just another curiosity in the park. Until all meaning we had for being there is forgotten ... that's how long it will go on.