The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice. – Mark Twain
Who writes the history books now, and what do they have to say about the Iraq war? This was the question in my mind after reading an unusually fine editorial from Scripps Howard News Service. Have journalism and academia now settled on an objective view of that financial debacle? How is it being taught in the schools? Here are the worthy opening paragraphs that grabbed my attention:
The Iraq war was going to pay for itself from Iraqi oil revenues, according to senior Bush administration officials in the run-up to the U.S. invasion. When it became clear that was unlikely, the Bush administration, instead of raising taxes, as we had done in every previous war, cut them instead.
The upshot is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost U.S. taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, both in immediate costs like replacing equipment and rebuilding stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, and long-term legacy costs like caring for wounded and disabled veterans.
That’s heady stuff and it’s the truth. I do wish though that the word “trillion” would be banished. That is nowhere as meaningful as saying “four thousand billions of dollars” or even “four million times a million dollars”, both of which are equivalent. But I digress. The editorial sources a Harvard professor and researcher.
I researched the question further and was pleased to come upon a fine SALON article on the same subject by yet another professor who also happens to be the father of a high school student and who was able to research several history texts now in use. He covers the matter much better than I could summarize it. This is analysis, not a partisan paper. I think even cynical old Mark Twain would be impressed, and I’m both heartened and frustrated by how history education is faring. Will today’s children really absorb the lessons that are now all too clear? Will the same mistakes be repeated? (Shock and awe have a different meaning a decade later.) What say you, dear reader?