The Americans invaded my country and killed a million people, and all I got was Reality TV?

A wide-eyed President George W. Bush speaks on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, hours before committing an epically violent mistake:

“Leaders in the region speak of a new Arab charter that champions internal reform, greater politics participation, economic openness, and free trade. And from Morocco to Bahrain and beyond, nations are taking genuine steps toward politics reform. A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.”

Western style goodness will re-make the Middle East. Didn’t we hear that over and over?

Yes we did. Especially after 2003 when even the neocons realized that the supposed reason for the invasion, Saddam’s nuclear weapons, or, more generally, his weapons of mass destruction, were a Bush administration mirage. The reason for the thousands of dead bodies did not exist.

Well, our democratic and freedom-loving ways will still change their world. The Iraqis will get direct elections. They will get freedom of speech and thought and religion. Free trade will blossom, new products and new ways and wild innovation will result. The hamstrung Iraqis — heck, all of the Arab states and their neighbors — will spasm with catharsis upon being blessed with American Freedom and the companion Manual of Western Ways.

And the United States will be whom to thank for it all.

Well, George and his brutal idealists weren’t right. They weren’t even close. After 7 years of unfathomable violence and misery, and of perhaps burning or burying a million corpses, we’re dragging ourselves back home. Only most of us, that is — there are still 50,000 of us there, and we’ll be there for a decade or decades to come.

Did we create Western Peace? Hardly. McClatchy’s daily list of violent episodes in Iraq reported several bombs and dead bodies yesterday.

Did we install a Western Government?

Patrick Cockburn: There is still no government and violence is increasing
Wednesday, 1 September 2010 | The Independent

The Iraq the US is leaving behind is a country in which violence is increasing and political parties have failed to produce a government six months after parliamentary elections . .

No. Did we otherwise improve the lives of the Iraqis? What — with all the busted infrastructure, poor drinking water and measly few hours of electricity per day? Doesn’t look like it.

Well, then, what has America done? What of our inspiring ideals and ways did we really instill? What can we take credit for in this desperate, war-ravaged country?

How about “Put Him in Bucca”? It’s a Reality TV show. Yes, but before you reflexively despise this latest scion of the U.S. pioneered genre, consider that this is Iraq’s take on it. And it goes like this: the show’s staff plant a fake bomb in some celebrity’s car, and then they film the guy trying to get through a security checkpoint.

The show, “Put Him in Camp Bucca,” has been on the air since the start of Ramadan, according to the New York Times’ At War blog, and has since generated lots of criticism from Iraqi newspapers, mainly because it hits so close to home and is also a horrible idea.

But “Camp Bucca” keeps rolling on, because who doesn’t love the terrified look of a man who thinks he’s going to spend a long while in an American-built maximum security prison? One of the guests pleads to the soldier at the checkpoint:

“I am a family man. I have two kids. How could I do this to my family? I am telling you the truth, it’s not me who planted the bomb . .”

HA! HO! It’s not me! Please, don’t kill me!

Without our efforts, this wouldn’t be amusing.


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