A war memorial in Santa Barbara, Calif., calls attention to American soldiers killed in Iraq (AP/Ric Francis)
It is a staple of our widely trumpeted Judeo-Christian heritage that the acknowledgment of sin is a prelude to redemption. So how is it that there is no palpable sense of soul searching associated with the 10th anniversary of a war based on officially concocted lies and a policy of torture? It is because the presumption of a unique American claim to an original and enduring innocence perseveres, no matter the death and destruction.
Indeed, some of our most celebrated publicists defined moral deceit as virtue in justifying the Iraq War. "As far as I am concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote in April 2003, when U.N. inspectors had clearly established that the proclaimed basis for invading Iraq was a lie. "Mr. Bush doesn't owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue)."
The big lie, that bane of human existence when embraced by obvious dictators elsewhere, is perceived as merely hyping when employed by an American president. Lyndon Johnson hyped the nonexistent second Gulf of Tonkin attack on American ships to justify the U.S. war in Vietnam, and George W. Bush hyped the fraudulent WMD issue when his fabrication of a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attack was proven factually absurd.
Even though Iraq never threatened the security of life in the United States, the Bush administration launched a genocidal civil war replete with a systemic policy of torture directed by U.S. officials at the highest level.
Just weeks ago, a devastating documentary produced by The Guardian newspaper and the BBC provided all the evidence needed for any decent person to demand trials for the perpetrators of an extensive system of Iraqi torture centers, operated and financed by the U.S. government. It was part of a policy of stoking a genocidal war of Shiite extremists against Sunnis that was directed by U.S. government veterans of similar efforts in Latin America and elsewhere. As the lead on The Guardian story put it: