Here at TWM, we have to admit that we're at a loss at what to say on the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. We find nothing new to be said, in part because we have continued to cover the war in depth despite the fact that it no longer gets as much media coverage as it once did. There is also no shortage of mainstream media and fellow blogs that have their own 2 cents. Protesters continue to march, presidential candidates continue to weigh in, and polls continue to show that negative feelings about the war have pretty much remained stable since this time last year... The only certainly is that, sadly, this war will still be going on tomorrow.
Again, since our own feelings and analysis about the war are pretty apparent to those who regularly follow our blog, we see no reason to rehash them here just for the sake of doing so. But as we approach 4,000 U.S. troop casualties and 30,000 wounded in Iraq, our hearts go out to our brave men and women serving and their families who bear the brunt of sacrifice in this war, as well as the the countless Iraqi civilian casualties, even when the news outlets are blogs are tuned out. Our only thoughts are with you tonight.
UPDATE: Xanthippas here. I have to thank Adam for putting this post up. I've struggled all day with whether to write about Iraq or not, and if so, what to say. As he said, there isn't much that hasn't been said about the war at this point. This time each year since 2004 we've taken a moment to reflect on the war and how it began, how it's going, what it means. And each year, the retrospectives seem to lose some of their power, their purpose, and their meaning. Why is that? Because Iraq is analyzed, dissected, understood and misunderstood countless times a day by countless average Americans, politicians, pundits and experts. Not a day goes by when there isn't something useful and insightful, or crass and meaningless, written about the war and our participation in it. So indeed, what can be said today that wasn't said yesterday or won't be said tomorrow? But there's another element to that. Unlike the horrible events of 9/11, the war is with us each and every day. Not a day goes by when I don't think about or reflect upon the war at some point, and I'm sure there are millions of Americans who do the same. We don't suffer the horrifying atrocities that the Iraqis do, but each day we wake up at war, and each night we go to sleep at war. And as we go to sleep, we know that the next morning the war will still be going on, we'll still be in Iraq, and that there is no end in sight. In that context, how is it possible to take one day to reflect upon the war, when every day the war is with us and we are forced to think upon it? As the horror of 9/11 has begun to fade with time, we can still take the anniversary of the day to ponder the attacks and glean what meaning we can out of them in the context of the passage of another year. But each day is a day to ponder and worry over the war in Iraq, and how to get out of it. It's impossible to separate one day from the next, especially as the war fades into the background of pressing changes in our economy, upcoming political contests, and the personal drama of each of our lives that seems far removed from an ambiguous conflict fought for uncertain purposes. We've been in Iraq long enough now to begin to feel as if we are in a permanent state of war, a war that cannot end because there is no fitting conclusion. And so the war is with us everyday, but we don't know what to say or think about it anymore because it has acquired a momentum of its own and it will be carried on whatever our conclusions about its purpose are.
This is how I feel, but of course this is not entirely true. Everyday there are those who wield what political power and influence they have to change the course of this war, and over time those changes are significant and meaningful. And if a Democrat is elected in November and the Democratic majorities strengthened in the House and the Senate, then the course of the war will be dramatically altered (eventually, if not immediately.) There is no reason to give up hope that either Iraq can know peace or that we can gracefully exit the country. But after five years of war premised on a rationale that dissolved even as our troops entered Baghdad, hope is a slender reed to cling to.