January 28, 2004


The whole war is hell bit is a cop out. As others might elaborate I'm nowhere near a pacifist in my values, killing people does solve certain sorts of problems. Unfortunately it cheapens any solution you find, and even presupposing that one had the means and will to exact a 'perfection' of violence and kill every possible offensive person on the planet you'd gain nothing more than bile and plague. It's very nice to say things like "Not much else you can do, really."
but every party to violence is a casualty. When you state "War was the only way" and lower the bar, you sell part of everyone explicitly and implicitly involved. Bush said so, and he cut out a piece of everyone whether they agreed or not. People can deny it, but every soldier that dies is someone we all helped to kill now. Personally I'm past caring about killing but that doesn't mean it doesn't enrage me that Bush is selling our national soul in Iraq over dubious reasons or incompetence. Because the next time someone might say the threshold is just a teensy bit lower, and sell more of ourselves.

The whole affair was so incompetently put off that it's cost us so much political coin that it will take two Presidencies to even it out. If we were going to invade Iraq regardless of what the major players in the UN thought, we shouldn't have approached them with a choice in the matter. If we were going to establish fictional pretexts for a war, we should have made damned sure that the fictions never saw the light of day. If it was all a mistake, and the established pretext was based off of some weird coincidence of honest error and wishful thinking - then the President shouldn't be standing in front of Congress declaring that he'd meant the cat when he chased the mouse.

I don't know which is the most troubling- the idea that the President involved us in an expensive and deadly pre-emptive land war as some long range plan to stabilize the Middle East and then failed to figure out that there would be problems in garrisoning the territories, the notion that our Intelligence community is so incompetent and faulty that we really did think that the corroded mortar twenty year old shells and odd wagon with medical supplies in it constituted a massive illicit weapons program, or that the President of the United States is once again boldy telling the American public a plain-as-dirt lie on a scale that would make Nixon and Clinton blush.

Even the elusive fourth option is unpalatable. If the entire reasoning behind the war in Iraq was absolutely true and there were massive stockpiles of WMDs within the borders at the time we made our declarations of will and intent, then we've somehow misplaced and lost such a menacing arsenal somehow between our 'clear intelligence data', the constant flyovers of US patrolled airspace over Iraq, our agents in other nearby countries, and years of constant scrutiny. If that is the case, I can only suggest that we all bend over sharply and kiss our sweet spots - Darwin's ghost himself is obviously eyeing our amazing verisimilitude.

Still, I don't begrudge the war itself. Simply invading Tuesday and having the news conference explaining that we'd done it Wednesday would have been sufficient. By Thursday we could have had a small group of rebels in place to "aid", establishing ourselves as intervening in a civil war I suppose. If we'd gone in expressly to "arrest Saddam" because he's an evil dictator, then I'd probably crease my brow and not worry too much about that. But either this invention or this mistake of the WMDs, the "eminent dangers" to our national security, the language of religious crusade - we didn't just do a war badly, we're doing it in such a way that it constantly highlights our mistakes and humbles our excellence. It's a Babylonian Vietnam now, we've got the ability to crush anything we can shoot at but we've got no diplomacy or relations doing anything for people on the ground that might as well have targets painted on them. Instead we've got "bring it on" and a stubborness to work with the international community while we bankrupt ourselves at home. Instead of patting ourselves on the back for a really awesome trip into Afghanistan we've got to kids ducking rocket-propelled grenades and carjackings in Bagdad. It's a failure, a mockery. We've invaded the dangerous nation of Iraq, where Saddam butchered thousands and made it so menacing that the Red Cross is afraid to give people aid. We've up and said, "See, the war is over!" and then suffered a steady stream of casualties past all comparison with what our Commander in Chief blandly assured us was the real war. Who knows? Maybe the real problem is that we're now saddled with a President who doesn't know how to manage a peace. A hyperactive child that, once finished with the serious business of cleaning the house, now bounces about the living room upturning furniture and breaking things on accident.

Bush is obviously good at making decisions. He's also not above making bad decisions and then defending them like a litter of puppies. That's not just unpopular, that's an ass.


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