Something That Should Have Been Buried at Waterloo

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It was six years ago this month that the first American missiles–of this war at least–fell from the sky over Baghdad. You know the rest. For all the questions we’ve asked of the people who led us into this blood-blunder of a war, we’ve not often stopped to ask ourselves why we were so damn easily led. I stumbled across war correspondent Robert Fisk’s most recent book, The Age of the Warrior, in the Utne library this week. The first words of his 498-page collection of articles and essays are, in typical Fisk fashion, words of damnation and profound questioning well suited for this solemn anniversary:

“Iraq, I suspect, will come to define the world we live in, even for those of us who have never been within a thousand miles of its borders. The war’s colossal loss in human life–primarily Iraqi, of course–and the lies that formed a bodyguard for our invasion troops in 2003 should inform our understanding of conflict for years to come. Weapons of mass destruction. Links to al-Qaeda and the crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001. We were fooled. Yet I sometimes believe that we wanted to be fooled–that we wish to be led to the slaughter by our masters, to race for the cliff-edge with the desperate enthusiasm of the suicide bomber, our instincts awakened by something that should have been buried at Hastings or Waterloo or Anietam or Berlin or even Da Nang. Do we need war? Do we need it the way we need air and love and children and safety? I wonder.”

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