Five years later, what an unpleasant surprise

I wish I were a Spider. Rather, I wish I were one of the “Spiders from Mars,” AKA David Bowie’s band from that orgasmic 1973 album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”

It’s brilliant. If you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to upload it to your Ipod or steal it from an FYE as soon as possible. It’s worth the jail time.

I was listening to it again last week, reflecting particularly on the opening track “Five Years,” an apocalyptic tune that sets a time frame for the end of our dying world. It’s beautifully morbid and depressing, detailing society’s collapse into panic-driven madness brought on by the reality of its own impending doom.

As I listened, either by fate or eerie coincidence, I realized the significance of the date on my calendar, March 20, 2008 – the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war.

Five years – whoa.

I remember when the war first started in 2003. We, that is, the U.S. military, were to treat the Iraqi conflict like an office quickie. Get in, get done, get out. No time for chitchat or foreplay, just straight to the point and back to business as usual. Bush Jr. declared the “mission accomplished” on May 1, and Saddam Hussein was caught cowering “like a rat” in a hole on Dec 13.

Happy Christmas! The War is over! Right?

Well, that was five years ago. And now, 4,000 dead U.S. troops – and over 80,000-documented dead Iraqi civilians – later, we’re still there.

There have been accomplishments, such as improving Iraqi health care and education. The U.S. has assisted in the creation of clean drinking water plants and better sewage facilities in Iraq. There was also the introduction of a new democratic Iraqi constitution.

But accomplishments come at a cost.

Many argue the price of these “victories,” such as a struggling U.S. economy, thousands of casualties, high oil prices, and a near globally negative view of America, weighs far heavier than even our greatest achievement in Iraq.

Plus, our current administration is so caught up in its cause that it still won’t admit that MAYBE Iraq was a mistake. Anyone see that Dick Cheney interview from last week? He was told that most Americans have a negative view of the Iraq war. His response? “So.”

To make matters worse, our democratic party is imploding on itself with its schoolyard name-calling (and a certain candidate’s if-I-can’t-have-it-nobody-can destructive mentality), while John McCain is just happy his ticker still functions in his seventies. These are the next possible leaders of the free world we’re talking about here!

How can we go from ninety-nine cent gallons of gas in the late nineties, to paying close to four times that in a span of less than a decade? How did we let this crumbling of a nation happen?

Did any anyone really think that Iraq was going to be a weekend holiday, or that Dubya would somehow magically create an economic boom and create more quality jobs on U.S. soil?

Were we naive enough to believe we were doing the right thing, even if the majority of the world condemned nearly every attack we’ve made on foreign soil since 9/11? Did we really expect the prospect of an economic recession/stagflation to just go away on its own?

Is anybody listening?

It’s hard times in America. Even with the promise of “change” and “hope” that may linger just over the horizon in 2009, one can’t help but feel a little bummed out by our current story. It’s a story of a once great nation’s tragic demise, crushed by the weight of its own ego.

It’s very Ziggy Stardust.

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