Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Today is May 1st, which in many parts of the world, though not in either of my two countries, is a time for working people to celebrate and contemplate some sort of solidarity. This year, I thought of the international distress signal, 'mayday! mayday!' when an essay by my friend Michael Goldfarb reminded me that today is also the tenth anniversary of Shrub Bush's Top Gun moment, when he landed on the flight deck of the carrier Abraham Lincoln in his jumpsuit, to the carefully choeroegraphed dropping of a huge banner saying 'Mission Accomplished'. A decade later, after untold deaths, a new President, an entrenching of government policies allowing torture, encouraging repression, and increasing control over day to day life, the main question has become to which mission was Bush referring, and how long will it continue, accomplished or not?

Goldfarb has written an essay, posted to his blog, which deserves a much wider readership. It is a meditation on the nature of freedom as much as the nature of war, and it's based on his own first-hand sobering experience. We disagreed over the waging of the second Iraqi war, but when it began Michael was there, an unembedded correspondent, and he saw the so-called liberation of Iraq first hand, accompanied by his friend Ahmad Shawkat. That's them in the photo above. His essay, one of an occasional series he calls History In A Time Of Forgetting, is titled 'And Would It Have Been Worth It, After All'. You can link to it here. 

If what he says resonates with you, I'd suggest you read his book, Ahmad's War, Ahmad's Peace, which is both a brilliant exegesis of the war and a moving tribute to his friend. Although it was a New York Times notable book of the year, its balance and honesty seem to have left it, and Michael, underappreciated in certain areas of the mainstream, but it is a rewarding experience, and today's essay is a small distillation of that.

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