[Marxism] Jane Smiley letter to Salon on George Packer

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Oct 11 14:02:46 MDT 2005

There are some interesting letters on salon.com responding to Gary Kamiya's 
review of Packer's book on Iraq, including one from Packer himself. But the 
one below from novelist Jane Smiley stands out. Smiley's best known work 
was an adaptation of King Lear to a Kansas farmer and his daughters!  I had 
no idea she was a political thinker as well. She has written for slate and 
other publications on current events.

Gary Kamiya writes, "In a just world, Bush, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, 
Rice, Feith and their underlings would be standing before a Senate 
committee investigating their catastrophic failures, and Packer's book 
would be Exhibit A." No. In a just world, these people would be taken out 
and shot. As for Packer, and his unwillingness to believe his own eyes, he 
may not realize or admit it, but there were plenty of antiwar lefties who 
knew before the war that the Bush team didn't have a chance. The fact is 
that the election of 2000 revealed the Bush team for anyone who was willing 
to look -- they were and are cheaters -- always willing to use illegality 
and dishonesty to try to get what they want, and what they want is 
something for themselves, not for the public interest, whether that public 
is the American public or the Iraqi public. To a man, they knew nothing 
about war. The "moral innocence" was theirs. They intended to visit 
suffering upon some people very far away for their own purposes. Packer and 
all the pro-war hawks are as corrupt as the neocons are, because they 
retain some sort of sentimental attachment to their former idealism about 
whether "war" can be good or bad. A war of independence has to come from 
those who want to be liberated -- many of us "soft" lefties knew that.

The war in Iraq was a cheat from beginning to end. It could not have turned 
out any differently. The very idea of Packer and Berman and the others 
sitting in the U.S. and vaporing on about manipulating Iraqi lives and 
politics is deeply disgusting. Packer may have made some progress toward 
redemption by writing a good book, but until he admits that he never knew 
what he was talking about before the war, and that antiwar protesters did 
know what they were talking about, he is still in the dark hole, and 
deserves to remain there.

-- Jane Smiley



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