Frank Rich’s Sunday NYT column concludes on what I think is meant to be a savagely ironic note:
Of all the pro forma passages in Obama’s speech, perhaps the most jarring was his entreaty that Iraq’s leaders “move forward with a sense of urgency to form an inclusive government that is just, representative and accountable.” He might as well have been talking about the poisonous political deadlock in Washington. At that moment, there was no escaping the tragic fact that instead of bringing American-style democracy and freedom to Iraq, the costly war we fought there has, if anything, brought the bitter taste of Iraq’s dysfunction to America.
It’s not just a third world nation’s dysfunction that our violent intimacy with Iraq has brought to us. The most privileged nation in the world met, via its military operations, one of the most miserable, over the course, so far, of 20, not merely 7-8, years. I imagine a kind of vast historical siphoning process: our surplus of will and power and ignorance forced down the already opened channel between the two culture-states, their miseries returning in the other direction in a bloody slurry of human wreckage, impelled to fill our moral vacuum – a two-way empathetic exchange. No one is in a position to identify what else we and they may have taken on or absorbed as a result of this not yet completed process, though almost everyone brought to offer an opinion seems compelled to submit a judgment and assign fault. The only thing that seems certain is that virtually no one – few whom I’ve encountered, anyway – seems to have much empathy to spare on this issue. Seems to have all been used up.