One cannot properly honor the fallen and wounded soldiers in an unnecessary war if one cannot first come to grips with the reality that the war was unnecessary and not all that significant for the rest of the world. Iraq war supporters have consistently exaggerated the importance of the war for U.S. security and the rest of the region (and indeed for the rest of the world), and some of them continue to imagine that this major strategic blunder has been redeemed from failure to success. Exaggerating the significance of the war for the rest of the world does not respect the sacrifices that Americans, Iraqis, and other nations have made there, but disgracefully tries to distort reality. This is done not to acknowledge the achievements of American forces, nor is it done for the sake of honoring the fallen and wounded, but to gratify those who supported this disaster every step of the way and whose hubris and poor judgment plunged American and allied soldiers into a war that they should never have been called on to fight.
Present-day Americans, few of them directly affected by events in Iraq or Afghanistan, find war tolerable. They accept it. Since 9/11, war has become normalcy. Peace has become an entirely theoretical construct. A report of G.I.s getting shot at, maimed, or killed is no longer something the average American gets exercised about. Rest assured that no such reports will interfere with plans for the long weekend that Memorial Day makes possible.
Members of the civil-military-corporate elite find war more than tolerable. Within its ranks, as Chris Hedges has noted, war imparts meaning and excitement to life. It serves as a medium through which ambitions are fulfilled and power is accrued and exercised. In Washington, the benefits offered by war’s continuation easily outweigh any benefits to be gained by ending war. So why bother to try?