Polemical Poetry XI: Remembering Bush’s Iraq War

The Misfortune Teller

The Misfortune Teller
Sculpture-Painting by Michael Murry © 2014

Michael Murry.  Introduction by William Astore.

It’s fascinating to witness Republican candidates for president continuing to swing and miss as they’re tossed softball questions about George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Jeb Bush was first at bat.  He initially said he’d invade Iraq all over again; then he got testy about answering “hypothetical” questions; got schooled by a young college student about how his brother’s actions served to create ISIS; then he finally if grudgingly admitted that maybe he wouldn’t have invaded Iraq in 2003, knowing what we know today.  Marco Rubio recently took a swing and missed as well.  Rubio claimed the invasion was not a mistake in 2003, and when asked whether in hindsight the invasion proved a mistake, Rubio claimed he didn’t understand the question, then made a bizarre reference to Manny Pacquiao the boxer.  No wonder former Secretary of Defense Bill Gates says he’s not impressed by any of these candidates.

Well, there’s nothing wrong with Michael Murry’s memory.  Murry, a Vietnam veteran who knows a lot more about the true costs of war than Jeb or Rubio ever will, is unequivocal in his denunciation of Bush and his wars – and not just Bush.  I just wish all the candidates for president in 2016 were confronted with Murry’s painfully blunt critique.  Polemical it may be, but harsher still is war, especially when fought for false causes. W.J. Astore

Michael Murry

A Sorry Solipsistic Siren Song
(We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here)

Around him in his court some scribes he kept
Who with informal nicknames proved adept
At not reporting all the times he slept
Or all the tasks at which he proved inept
As war up on our napping nation crept

Our vain imposter in a bubble ruled
A people often and completely fooled
Rejoicing in a leader so unschooled
That when he tried to speak he merely drooled
While in Iraq blood splattered, spread, and pooled

He felt no urgent need to change or tack
Because his troops, not he, absorbed the flak
He vowed to never waver or turn back
His yokel yodel, yammering, and yak
Left no doubt that his skull contained a crack

He found the country’s magic credit card
Left lying in the country’s open yard
Which meant he’d caught the country off its guard
Which others, too, found scarcely very hard:
A haughty herd hoist by its own petard

For who had placed such emptiness on top?
Who harvested this hollow, stunted crop?
Who let an addict start who couldn’t stop?
Who’d rather drink a river than a drop
Who needed babysitters as a prop

It doesn’t look too good for Uncle Sam
Whose credit rating just received a slam
For gambling debts from gamblers on the lam
Most notably the chief commanding sham
Who has a brain that doesn’t weigh a gram

Now trapped within the web of lies he spun
More dangerous than Cheney with a gun
(Who, when he aims at quail, the lawyers run)
His bloody mess he aims to leave undone
Few lesser “leaders” breathe beneath the sun

The nightlight shining softly by his bed
Illuminates an empty sleeping head
His dreams result in many people dead
His ancestors now hide in shameful dread
Embarrassed by the fool their genes have bred

Yet no one seems to know just what to do
About a man who governs for the few
Who takes a jaunty jaded jaundiced view
Of those he sees as subjects he can screw
Or troops that he can bleed till they turn blue

His party and his pundits say they see
Some pants invisible to you and me
Which only those with his same pedigree
Would witness by imperial decree
Or, when so ordered, drop their own and pee

Not much is left of that proud liberty
That once Americans considered free
Now stolen by this spawn of larceny
Who stamps as “secret” his known perfidy
Who cannot face the truth, his enemy

He says we can’t be trusted if we know
What he has done and how he plans to blow
More billions causing needless blood to flow
With nothing ever offered up to show
Why he should not up on the scaffold go

A necktie party, yes, might do the trick
Some tar and feathers, too, for George and Dick
Who’ve earned their names: the Codpiece and the Prick
Who sold some snake oil to the deathly sick
Who ordered much but never served a lick

Ulysses chained himself but not his crew
Their ears he stopped against the sounds that slew
And thus they rowed through waves and winds that grew
While he strove with the only gods he knew
So he could pass, yet hear their music, too

But our King George the Worst stays on the docks
And waves “goodbye” as troopships leave the locks
His motto: “After You!” no longer shocks
As he hires other men to tend his flocks
While carpetbagger cronies hump their stocks

Which leads us to Barack Obama, known
For making Dubya’s wars his very own
And adding to them others which have grown
(Through profligate employment of the drone)
Into the body-count and free-fire zone

Which our lost War on Southeast Asia taught
Us to regard as surefire proof of naught
But only bogus bullshit numbers fraught
With lies our “leaders” sold themselves, then bought
Which only left them on the hook and caught

So Dimwit Dubya has a “smarter” clone:
Obama, whose failed wars have only shown
That no amount of more war can atone
For waging stupid murder from the throne
Of presidential twerp testosterone

A sorry solipsistic siren song
A darkness deeper than the night is long
In their mad minds no right can do a wrong
And fatal weakness only signals strong
A blind man would have seen it all along

Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2015

Michael Murry is a Vietnam Veteran, gargoyle sculptor, and poet.  He occupies the Asian Desk for The Contrary Perspective.

13 thoughts on “Polemical Poetry XI: Remembering Bush’s Iraq War

  1. As Mike has said, you can’t do a wrong thing the right way. The right thing is to end these wars and to stop meddling in the affairs of others.

    • Yes, Bill. But you and I both know that the aphorism uses the word “right” in the sense of “correct.” Now if one uses the word “right” in the sense of right-wing political extremism, or Fascism, then one can certainly do a wrong thing the right-wing way. In fact, one can scarcely do a wrong thing worse than doing it the right-wing, or fascist, way. Hence Gore Vidal’s astute observation that “America has only one political party, the Property Party, and it has two right wings, the Democrats and the Republicans.” So not only does America’s corporate/political/military “elite” suppose that it can do any wrong thing the right-wing way, but that it now has no political possibility of doing it in any other way.

  2. Believe it or not, George W. Bush was Jay Leno’s guest shortly before Leno’s leaving the Tonight Show, and praised his father George Sr. for his philosophical devotion to unconditional love.

    • I can never forget nor trivialize the service Bush 41 performed for America during WWll, but before I would even think of crediting him for his “devotion to unconditional love” I want to know how he defines both “devotion” and “unconditional love”. Until I have a chance to review both of those definitions, my conclusion is I have only been made aware of yet one more bs utterance out of a mouth habitually flowing gobs of bs: good ol’ 43.

      • It was closer to “he (Sr.) was all about unconditional love”, but the point not mentioned in my original comment was the results for the Iraqis, and US military, of the Iraq War were clearly not generated by unconditional love. Tried to find a YouTube video, some parts of the interview are up there, but the unconditional love statement isn’t included.

      • I don’t know about Poppy Bush and his philosophy, but surely Dubya got his own understanding of “compassionate conservatism” from his mother, who notoriously commented upon the bedraggled and homeless survivors of Hurricane Katrina huddled in the Astrodome:

        “Almost everyone I’ve talked to said we’re going to move to Houston. What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by all the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, they’re underprivileged anyway, so this — this is working very well for them.”

        Yeah. Compassion. Bush Family Values. Got it.

        On the other hand, I live in Southern Taiwan and had a skin cancer removed from my right ear just about the time of Hurricane Katrina. On the nightly news here we saw pictures of Taiwanese dentists volunteering their services, working around the clock in the Astrodome, pulling diseased teeth from all these poor black Americans who had obviously never had any dental care worth mentioning. As the Taiwanese doctor removed the skin cancer from my ear, I thanked him and the Taiwanese people for all their generosity towards my country in its time of need. I also apologized for all the awful things my country was doing to the people of Iraq. He replied: “Well, yes. That is so. But we will also not forget the good things that America has done.” I didn’t think then — and I don’t think now — that we Americans deserved such forgiveness and understanding from abroad. Still, I think such comments do measure in some way the good reputation that we once enjoyed but have now thoroughly squandered.

        Just a couple of observations …

  3. I appreciate Bill Astore’s kind introduction to the poem, but I think a few additional comments might help to clarify what I had in mind by revisiting and enlarging it at this particular moment. I wrote the poem initially in 2006, nine years ago. At that time, Deputy Dubya’s War on Iraq — actually just the second of several planned as part of a Global War on Terra — had already long-since lapsed into the dreary debacle that it remains today under the “new” (and fading) mismanagement of President Barack Obama. He, in turn, will predictably hand off not just the two chaotic quagmires that he inherited and failed to liquidate: namely, Iraq and Afghanistan, but the self-inflicted messes in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine, as well. Even worse, Bush and Obama’s heiress-apparent, You-Know-Her (and you know that you do), already has her bloody fingerprints all over every one of these disasters. Therefore, she will start her own Era of Error already committed to defending and deepening the debacles that she ably assisted her two (if not three) predecessors in fomenting in the first place.

    As well, I remembered something Barbara Tuchman wrote in The March of Folly, her classic treatise on misgovernment throughout the ages. She quoted Richard Nixon as telling some aides after he won election to the presidency in 1968: “I’m going to stop that damn war [in Vietnam] — fast. Because if I haven’t ended it in six months, it will be my war.” Naturally, Nixon did not expeditiously end the War on Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) and so it quickly and properly became his war — and the ruin of his presidency. Nixon thought that he could defuse domestic opposition to the war by withdrawing ground troops (and lowering U.S. casualties) while increasing air bombardments and enlarging the corrupt and useless South Vietnamese Army (ARVN). In this way, he sought to continue the lost war but leave the official losing of it to other presidents who would come later. President Obama, likewise, had his six-months-to-a-year in which to liquidate the already lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he failed to expeditiously do so. Consequently, Afghanistan and Iraq promptly and properly became his wars — and the near ruin of his presidency to date. He has adopted Nixon’s scheme of lowering U.S. casualties to defuse domestic opposition to the wars while increasing air bombardments and enlarging the corrupt and useless “armies” in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this way, he hopes to escape the inevitable official collapse, but that will only happen, if it happens, because of dumb luck. He had his chance to actually “change” things, but he chose not to learn the lesson of Richard Nixon and the “Fig Leaf Contingent” in which I once served. Now Dubya and Obama have given us the “Buy Time Brigade.” Same thing.

    In view of these observations, then, I felt that simply blaming Dimwit Dubya stopped working about a year into the first Obama administration and that I should have the poem reflect this. So I added three stanzas toward the end for the current Commander-In-Brief. I also had to change “his mind” to “their minds” in the final stanza in order to generalize Presidential ownership of these now-endless Orwellian “wars” on Peace. I hope to live for many more years, but I do not look forward to revising this poem yet again six years from now as You-Know-Her and the “Democrats” square off against another gaggle of Republican presidential pretenders, each double-dog-daring the other to murder more impoverished Muslims or Ukrainians because our friends will not respect us and our enemies will not fear us if we stop acting so bloody stupid. This lunatic logic — another undead relic of our Southeast Asia insanity — presumes, of course, that our friends respect our stupidity and our enemies fear it; precisely the opposite of how friends and enemies actually think. But you know … America …

    • Well put. Recall Nixon’s attempted use of the “Madman Theory” vis-a-vis North Vietnam. Scare them, Henry Kissinger, into thinking I might do anything because I hate communism so much. But the North Vietnamese kept their cool when confronted with “Madman” Nixon, effectively calling his bluff.

    • I suppose that I got a little lost in the details of my response to Bill Astore’s generous introduction. Put more simply, I would suggest, in the interests of fairness and accuracy, that we draw a “strikeout” line through the word “Bush’s” and add the word “America’s” immediately following.

      I say this because America’s War on Iraq has gone on now for twenty-four years. It began in 1991 at the close of the George H. W. Bush administration, with Operation Desert Slaughter. It continued for eight more years of sanctions, inspections, and bombings during the two Bill Clinton administrations. Then the world got to experience Deputy Dubya’s eight years of threats, all-out invasion, and occupation. Now we find that six more years have elapsed during which Barack Obama has rhetorically “ended” the war on Iraq while still continuing it in practice and expanding it into Syria. So, nine years of Bushes, true, but fourteen and counting for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. A thoroughly national and bi-partisan disaster. I meant for my poem to convey this truth.

  4. Pingback: Polemical Poetry XII: The Iraq Catastrophe | The Contrary Perspective

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