There's plenty to dislike about living in London.
It's wet. It's cold. It's expensive. In December, the sun goes down before 4 p.m. And for reasons I'll never understand, London radio stations regularly play the music of Robbie Williams.
Living in London has some upsides, though.
You could go to the British Museum every weekend for the rest of your life and never see everything. That's especially true if you walk slowly and plan to die soon. London's Bangladeshi restaurants are incredible. And even if they disagree with me, at least the people in London know what I'm talking about when I complain about how dreadful Williams' music is.
The thing I like most about London these days? Londoners get to browse their daily newspapers and see journalists complaining about how crappy their country's official Iraq war inquiry is.
The inquiry, led by career civil servant Sir John Chilcot, has been criticized from the left, right and center for not pressing witnesses hard enough, for not forcing witnesses to testify under oath, and for not making crucial documents available to the public via the inquiry's website at www.iraqinquiry.org.uk.
Those ungrateful limey reporter bastards! Don't they realize how lucky they are? At least their country has a crappy Iraq war investigation to complain about.
We in the U.S.A. don't have anything of the sort. In the spirit of bipartisanship and "looking ahead," the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress refuse to mount a serious investigation of the deceit, incompetence, arrogance, corruption, cowardice and bad intelligence that created the Iraq debacle. Heck, we can't even muster up the nerve to investigate the White House-approved illegal torture of prisoners in U.S. custody.
As watered-down as critics say it is, the Chilcot inquiry has forced top aides to ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair to publicly explain how the decision to invade Iraq appears to have been made at least 11 months before the actual invasion, that British intelligence knew Iraq wasn't a WMD threat, and that post-invasion planning was so shoddy it was effectively nonexistent. Blair will testify in front of Chilcot next year, as will sitting Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
In a healthy democracy, the grown-up news media is supposed to eat this stuff up, even if the revelations aren't especially shocking. That's what's been happening in the U.K. The Guardian and the BBC actually have entire online sections devoted to the Chilcot inquiry.
By comparison, the big story in today's Washington Post (today for me is Dec. 22) is a 2,300-word exposé on the White House party crashers – credited to an amazing 19 reporters and researchers.
The American media pretends our national amnesia is an expression of our collective desire not to dwell on the painful, divisive past.
Ha. And ha. I'm sure the news establishment's lack of enthusiasm for a clear-eyed look at the Iraq debacle has nothing to do with the fact that so many big-deal journalists were cheerleaders for the war. If you turn on the TV or crack open an op-ed page (especially the Post's op-ed page), it seems like most of those same cheerleaders are still presented to readers today as if they're foreign policy experts.
And I'm sure the Obama administration's magnanimous "bipartisanship" on the issue is in no way a result of the fact that the Democratic Party's foreign policy muckety mucks were every bit as wrong about Iraq as former President George W. Bush and his cronies were.
The idea that we're too busy looking forward to try to learn lessons from our past mistakes is blatant idiocy. Unless you've got a flux capacitor in your DeLorean, the past is actually the only period of time one can examine for lessons. Our leaders and our press barons are afraid to talk about Iraq because it makes them look bad. This "let's look forward" attitude is B.S. If a buxom cocktail waitress called a press conference tomorrow to say she saw the words "Bush lied about Iraq and created a disaster that will haunt us for a generation" tattooed on Tiger Woods' taint, we all know the media's reluctance to dwell on the past would instantly evaporate.
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