First off, belated Nowruz greetings to all of you. As people learn more about Iran I find that there are more and more Nowruz “explainers” out there for people to read, though I’m still partial to the one I wrote back in 2013. This one from NPR is nice, though.
Today is also the 13th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. If you’re looking for some historical analysis of the war and its effects, get back to me when it ends. Because it really never has, banners and aircraft carriers and bulging presidential codpieces aside.
I suppose it feels like the war is over to most people in the US, which is all well and good, but try telling that to the Iraqi people, who haven’t known so much as a month of uninterrupted peace since the morning of March 20, 2003, when the Project for the New American Century finally got its new American century, the rest of the world be damned (literally). And yeah, Saddam Hussein is no more, and the human race is richer for his demise. But at what cost? At what ongoing cost?
The utterly unnecessary and comprehensively disastrous Iraq War animates a lot of my own views on war and peace, American foreign policy, and the unjustified/unjustifiable deference our political and media discourse still gives to the Professional Experts and Very Serious Pundits who watched the most avoidable foreign policy fiasco in American history unfold before them and did nothing, or else cheered it on. By and large those people haven’t suffered so much as a minor professional inconvenience over their malpractice–they certainly haven’t suffered anything like the Iraqi people have suffered for the past 13 years.
It’s ironically fitting that this war’s anniversary falls on or very near to Nowruz every year. “Nowruz” means “new day” in Persian, or “new light” if you want to really be archaic about it. The idea of turning the page on the past, of giving yourself a clear slate for the coming year, is implicit in the holiday and its commemoration of the world’s annual spring rebirth after another desolate winter. It would be wonderful if we could all turn the page on the Iraq War, but the fighting it began still very much rages on, and once that finally stops its consequences will be with all of us for many more years to come.