Michael Kelly Is Still Dead

Michael Kelly, a prominent cheerleader for Bush’s War, died just over ten years ago. He was in Iraq to cover his glorious little war when his Humvee overturned and plunged into water. Kelly drowned.

Kelly was the worst kind of smugly infuriating propagandist, leading the pre-Iraq War assault on reality and reason. A lot of my early blogging amounting to griping about Kelly. And then he was gone. And I haven’t even thought of him for years.

See Tom Socca, A Stupid Death in a Stupid War: Remembering Michael Kelly

The premise of Kelly’s argument for invasion was that escalating the war, carrying it to Baghdad on the ground, would settle the problems “easily and quickly.” Like his fellow poets, Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens, he presented his romantic vision as clear-eyed advice. Evil must be opposed. Good would triumph. Anyone who disagreed was benighted, mistaken, immoral. …

… Perhaps, like Sullivan, he would have changed his position on Iraq, had he lived to see our military might losing control, the easy liberation collapsing into hell, Saddam’s torture prisons reopening with American torturers. What might he have written, if he’d had the chance to engage with the terrible truths of this past decade? What might a hundred thousand other people have done, if they’d lived too?

And we’ve never properly mourned, have we?

21 thoughts on “Michael Kelly Is Still Dead

  1. Yeah, I remember him from TV news channels and shows on a variety of channels, and wondered wtf he was prattling on about?
    But, of course, he was one of many. He was just particularly aggressive about wanting to get into a war many of us knew was senseless and stupid, and potentially disasterous.

    And at the time, I figure that if a bobo like me could figure out that this was all BS from where I was then living – in Chapel Hill, NC – then people like Kelly should have known – or could have known, if they wanted to know.
    But I think they knew it was BS, and beat the drums for it, anyway.

    I guess people like Kelly & Co, must have figured, “Hey, what could possibly go wrong?”

    Hell, the action in Kosovo, run by “draft-dodger” Clinton, went remarkably well. We didn’t lose a single soldier – despite the warnings of imminent Armegeddon from the Conservatives.
    After Reagan’s Greneda, and Bush I, war was now the Republicans toy, and they didn’t wanted to share it.
    But, hey, even with a Democrat as President, we won! (With the help of UN forces).

    And H.W. Bush’s earlier war in the Middle East against Saddam had gone off very well, without an “unacceptable” number of American lives lost.
    And, hey, we won! (Again, with the help of UN forces).

    Now,we needed to win another one!
    Since Vietnam, we’d just had 3 successful “wars” under 3 different Presidents – so the “Vietnam Curse” was OVER!
    And besides, it had been years since we MSM folks had a good, juicy, and easy war to cover.
    Hey, what bad things could happen, right?

    But this time, the UN wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to help us out.
    SO WHAT?
    We’re ‘MURKA!!! We don’t need no steeeeeeenkin’ help!!!

    We can kick his ass, and have Saddam “SUCK ON THIS!” by our damned selves.

    And so, with the MSM beating and bleating, off we went into “Bush’s Folly.”

    And when I heard that Kelly had died, while I didn’t exactly gloat, I didn’t exactly feel any sorrow either.
    He was, after all, a human being. A hubristic, loud, and wrong one – but a human being nontheless.

    A human being who had sowed the seeds of his own destruction.
    It’s too bad that his, and the rest of the MSM’s, seeds also killed thousands of Americans, wounded tens of thousands of others, cost Trillions of dollars, and, not least of all, killed, injured, and/or displaced millions of Iraqi’s, who had nothing to do with W’s and Cheney’s wounded pride when they ignored all of the warnings about bin Laden, and saw 9/11 happen on THEIR watch – all because it was Clinton and his peoople who had warned them.
    Pffft… What did Clinton know?

    A wounded pride, and still lingering boundless hubris, is a horrible combination.

    And now, many of the same fools who helped beat and bleat for “Bush’s Folly,” want us to go into Iran, as well.
    And if they want to, I say, “Join up! Join up so that you can be on the front lines!”
    Or else, sit down, and STFU!!!

    People like this have done enough damage already – to this country, and the world.
    Decades worth of damage.
    And maybe, fatal damage, eventually.

    And to give Kelly credit for actually going to the scene of the war he helped Cheney and Bush create, instead of pounding away on some laptop in his suburban den like the rest of the Keyboard Kommando’s, is to give the loyal followers of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, credit for dying on the battlefields in the wars of their master’s choosing.

    Not every martyr to every cause, is a real hero.
    Sometimes that martyr is a martyr, because he/she was stupid and/or ignorant.

  2. “And we’ve never properly mourned, have we?”

    Well I can feel some empathy for his family but other than that he had it coming. Anyone who so enthusiastically pushes for something that will certainly kill thousands is the worst kind of scoundrel. In the end he was just another chicken hawk, more than willing to send others to war but too much of a pussy to have actually served.

  3. I think this is the saddest paragraph in Scocca’s entire piece:

    A decade before, Kelly had written a sharp book, Martyrs’ Day, about the absurdity and savagery he’d observed during a “small war,” the spell of combat we now erroneously refer to as the first Gulf War. But by 2003, he was too pompous and self-satisfied to see any real trouble coming. He had retreated into the strange cartoon world of Washington politics and punditry, in which you are considered a hard-nosed realist if you believe that armed force solves problems, and a useless idealist if you believe armed force might create new problems.

    I sure wouldn’t want “She retreated into the world of Washington politics and punditry” on my tombstone. Although “pompous and self-satisfied” is probably a given.

  4. We are in a position of triumph, and potentially much greater triumph. A few months ago, all was still in tatters. Hussein still defied with impunity, still ruled unchallenged over his torture state, still schemed to advance his dreams of himself as the atomic Saladin… The will of one man, George W. Bush, changed all this.

    It’s a shame that death came so quickly and easily for Micheal Kelly..He should have suffered more. At least to the point where his desires to spread Bush’s scourge of humanity came face to face with the pain and suffering he so gleefully sowed.

  5. Oh, what a wicked web we weave…..
    Well, there was Operation Desert Storm with Bush 41, then daily bombing under Bill Clinton, the cruel sanctions that Albright said were “worth it”.The USA had been at war with Iraq for 12 years before Bush 43 invaded. Iraq’s army of conscripts were slaughtered by Powell and Stormin’ Norman, Iraq’s Air Force decimated by Bush 41, the infrastructure destroyed by Clinton, WTF was left for Bush 43?
    If “we” ever go head to head with a REAL military, I shudder to think…..
    No war crimes prosecutions, our politicans bending over backwards to accomodate Israeli demands, GITMO still open for business.

  6. And all the while Bush is snug in his cocoon of unreality, far from his crimes..
    erinyes mentioned in previous thread that one of Bush’s artworks consisted of a canvas painted entirely blue and titled: “Dog Gone”. I wonder if that artwork is supposed to express an ember of humanity for Barney’s passing, or whether it expresses a realization of regret through self examination of the horrors he inflicted upon the Iraqi people.

  7. WTF was left for Bush 43?
    They left Bush holding the bag of wrath..He took the sucker punch of 9/11. The upside is he got to be the commander guy, the decider,and a war time president..What more could a simpleton want?

    I’m still waiting for Bush’s legacy to bloom into greatness…. 🙂

  8. “I’m still waiting for Bush’s legacy to bloom into greatness…”.

    Oh rest assured it will. All the fuck-ups get white washed in the end, look at Bubba, 41, Raygun, etc. The only president that hasn’t enjoyed ”rehabilitation” was Carter. I’m sure had he not been so honest about the occupiers in Palestine he would have been “forgiven” by the media masters long ago. All of the soft stories about W’s “artwork” it’s all a plan. He’ll never be known as a great thinker, that’s too hard a sell, he’ll just be molded as an honest man that meant the best for the country. All you have to do is look at the way Bubba is treated. As far as I’m concerned his presidency was far more damaging the W’s, we will pay the price for Clintons deals long after the War dept that W rang up is paid off.

  9. Swami,
    FSM knows Bush 43 left us with enough sh*t for SOMEthing to bloom.

    We’ve already got one bloom that he left us.
    It’s on FOX all of the time – that large, fat, stupid, “Turdblossom!”
    *Spit 3 times, make Wiccan signs, to ward off EVIL!!! And STUPID!!!!!*

  10. erinyes…I remember Aziz trying to avert war by furnishing every documentation possible to show that Iraq didn’t have the weapons of mass destructions that Bush and his henchmen claimed..In retrospect, it’s sad to see that no matter what Aziz would have done it wouldn’t have stopped Bush’s intention to invade Iraq.
    I guess Aziz can be chalked up as just another one of Bush’s victims. Bush’s propaganda machine did such a thorough job on the American public that truth never stood a chance.

  11. Well, William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer never saw any need to repent, nor did most of the Fox News cheerleaders for the war; what is to make anyone think this guy would have been any different?

    Well, he is in a better place now, and so are we.

  12. There’s a mental device that enables arch-conservatism. It’s called dualism – the fundamental arrogant belief that people, countries and events are either good or evil. It presumes that if you identify ‘evil’ then the opposition to that evil is by default – ‘good’. Saddam was evil and his sons potentially worse. That’s true. The forces of greed pressing for war were also evil. The slaughter of non-combatants by US soldiers – acts of kidnapping and torture and murder – were evil. This is the relative nature of war. Conservatives seldom acknowledge it. Liberals are more likely to struggle with the two evils of bringing war on a people vs allowing an evil to continue.

    War is a cesspool and the epidemic rate of suicides by vets is proof of the toxic effect of state-sponsored violence. We expect our government and military leaders to have the wisdom and expertise to avoid pointless, stupid and expensive military excursions. Iraq has set the gold standard of stupid – pointless and so, so expensive in more ways than the mere trillions we wasted.

    After our defeat in Vietnam, there were questions raised about the ‘lessons of Vietnam’. The ‘victory’ of Iraq was a more crushing and expensive loss than that little war in Indochina – and nobody is asking about the lessons we haven’t learned.

  13. Ditto, about Doug.

    Yeah, in the relentless Sturm Und Drang, and drumbeats of war, involved in selling the public on invading Iraq, there were a whole lot of pundit “mea’s” out there proudly pounding away – and now, 10 years later, we’ve heard very few “culpa’s.”
    Sometimes, ‘silence ISN’T golden.’
    Sometime, silence is just that – silence.
    And saying you were right, but for the wrong reasons; or wrong,but for the right ones; or you would have been right, if only you’d known ____________; is just hubris masking cowardice. And it doesn’t count anywhere near as much as a simple “mea culpa’ spoken out loud, or put to paper, or beamed out into the intertubes.
    It takes a wee bit of courage to admit you were totally wrong about every single thing
    And there’s been as much of a display of courage by the drummers in the weeks after the 10th Anniversary of Bush’s Folly, as there was careful thought and introspection before signing-up to drum for that debacle.
    Kelly, at least, has an excuse for his silence.
    What’s the excuse for the rest of the drum section?

  14. Everyone makes the world a better place — some through their deeds, others by leaving it.

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