Michael Murry. Introduction by William Astore.
Iraq is in the news again. As ISIS continues to expand its power, U.S. politicians engage in rehashing dishonest debates about “bad” intelligence in regards to Iraq (vintage 2002-03) or in recriminations about who did or is “losing” Iraq, e.g. this article from today’s New York Times about how the U.S. has been too timid in its use of airpower.
But Iraq was never ours to “win” from the beginning. Indeed, in toppling Saddam Hussein and demobilizing the Iraqi military, the U.S. created a power vacuum in Iraq that led predictably to civil war and the chaos of today. No “surge” in U.S. forces, no matter how permanent, could ever end this chaos, and of course the Petraeus surge was always meant to be temporary, a Band-Aid over a sucking chest wound, to use a colorful Army expression.
Our very own Michael Murry knows the score. He knows a sucking chest wound represents a catastrophe, one inflicted by the United States, as he documented in this poem from 2009. His short introduction to it, written last week, has the virtue of honesty, something lacking in our posturing politicians and our memory-hole media. Read on! W.J. Astore
The Iraq Catastrophe, by Michael Murry
I wrote the following poem soon after reading Noam Chomsky’s book Failed States (2006). The following quote from his book struck me as especially memorable:
“The scale of the catastrophe in Iraq is so extreme that it can barely be reported.”
Nine years after Professor Chomsky wrote that, the catastrophe in Iraq has, if anything, become even more extreme, to the point where few in the United States have any interest in even trying to understand and report it.
Having some first-hand experience with the catastrophe that the American military visited upon Southeast Asia over four decades ago, I had no trouble putting myself in the position of an Afghan or Iraqi citizen confronted by alien U.S. invaders spouting empty slogans about “Democracy” while laying waste to everything they touched or contemplated. We Americans did the same to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos while taking extreme umbrage at the lack of gratitude expressed by our victims. Hence, this little poetic exercise in walking a few steps in the other man’s shoes …
Thanks for Nothing
Benevolent invader of my land
How can I thank you for the helping hand?
Why, had you not come here with awe and shock,
Reducing my poor home to piles of rock,
I might have raised my children safe and sound,
But, thanks to you, I’ve laid them in the ground.
A wife I had, once too, but now no more.
She died one day while driving to the store.
Some nervous mercenaries that you hired
Screamed something at her once, then aimed and fired.
The bullet-riddled windshield told the tale:
That “freed” of life, our women need no veil.
Your generals have come so many times,
Yet never have to answer for their crimes.
Instead, promotion weighs them down with stars
But never, like enlisted men, the scars
Resulting from the bungling and sheer waste
Of thinking last but shooting first in haste.
On nine-eleven, two-thousand-and-one
You got a taste of what you’ve often done
To countries that had never caused you harm
Yet still, too late, you sounded the alarm
And whipped yourself into a lather thick
So you could hurt yourself with your own stick.
Three thousand on that fateful day you lost.
Six thousand more you’ve added to the cost
Since then, which only proves that there or here
You act the same: in folly, rage, and fear.
In time, you’ll go back home to where you’re from,
To fight among yourselves, the deaf and dumb.
Too bad for all the carnage that you’ve caused
Who never thought or for a minute paused
Before afflicting us with your disease:
A plague of bankrupt bullies, fascist fleas,
Who, both hands outward stretched to beg a loan,
Continue “helping” us to shrink and groan.
You talk to pat yourselves upon the back.
Your actions only scream of what you lack:
The insight and intelligence to see
How much you’ve harmed yourself as well as me.
But just the same I’ll thank you to go home
Before you earn the fate that toppled Rome.
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2009, 2015.
Michael Murry is a Vietnam Veteran, gargoyle sculptor, and poet. He occupies the Asian Desk for The Contrary Perspective.