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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

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Iraq My Brain, But Still It Makes No Sense
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
It strikes me as ironic that so many Americans support the war in Iraq. Not because of how terribly badly the war is going; not because Bush's own intelligence briefing claimed best case would be tenuous stability, worst case civil war; not because Israel's Barak (Originally in favor of the war) has warned Cheney that there is no way to win an occupation, just a choice on management of the humiliation; not because even Republican senators are speaking out. No, the reason I can't understand American support for the war is that there is really no reason on record for having gone to war-- at least none that makes any sense. In short, no official reason has clearly been provided TO agree with.

The first justification, of course, was Weapons of Mass Destruction. But we all know now that was a crock; even the administration has stopped foisting that line on us; they have shifted the debate about WMD to a debate about quality of intelligence, a neat piece of derring do which enables them to admit there were no WMDs without taking the blame. (Of course there WAS plenty of intelligence to the effect that there were no WMD; even the 9/11 Commission report confirms this, to the point where Richard Clarke has included it in the paperback version of his book.)

Some may argue that the WMD justification was in response to Iraq's violation of UN resolution 441 (although don't forget, even the administration can't look you in the eye with a straight face anymore and claim WMD). The problem with this logic, of course, is that the UN didn't invade Iraq, the US did. Indeed Annan has just decided the invasion was illegal (although one wonders where the hell he's been 2 years.)

Having virtually admitted WMD was a red herring, an expedient McGuffin to get us all pumped up for war, the administration has since floated three other justifications (notably without selecting one as the motivation; these things are just sort of floated to see if anything sticks.) The first one: regime change. Saddam Hussein was a bad man, so who cares if we like totally lied about WMD, it was worth it to oust that knave. Which would make sense except for two things:

--You didn't need to invade and occupy Iraq to kill Saddam and his sons; all you had to do was-- well, kill them. Or more expediently, hire the Israelis to do it.

--We have no national policy of eliminating heinous dictators. Quite the contrary actually; we're as likely to prop up the despot as to tear him down, depending on our economic interests. When Hussein committed his worst atrocities-- gassing Iraqis, gassing Kurds-- we looked the other way because he WAS OUR ALLY. Indeed we were a supplier of the military technology he used on his people.

So then you get the last two justifications the administration has floated: create a magnet for terrorism so we don't have to fight them here; and, create a model Islamic democracy.

These two tend to make me either laugh, or shake my head in wonderment. Suppose you wanted to create a democratic state from the ashes of a dictatorship. Your first move, obviously, would be... to lure as many terrorists as possible into the country? Can you see how ludicrous these two motivations are together? And yet the administration hasn't really backed off of either one. The apparent mad dash to democracy might indicate that "create a model Islamic democracy" is now the leading candidate for Why We Went to War With Iraq. Except that with elections due in January and that prospect growing dimmer each day, the administration continues to hedge by refusing to annoint the whole democracy thing as the actual reason for the war.

Additionally, of course, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Iraq isn't a terrorist magnet so we can fight them there; it is an AMERICAN magnet so THEY can surround and fight us on the home court. Just exactly who are the sitting ducks in Iraq, and who are taking the pot shots? "Here's 200,000 Americans to shoot at and decapitate-- and there's more where they came from!" As far as Islamic insurgents are concerned, the war has been a boon for business. You do know that since Hussein was killed, rifles and other weapons from the Iraqi arsenals have made their way in hordes into the hands of the Wahhabi insurgents in Saudi Arabia (where the street price of a Kalishnakov rifle from Iraq is now apparently $7.)

And of course, we've covered the whole democracy thing before. Fundamentalist Muslims don't want democracy; it is in conflict with Islam. Let me be specific here: In Islam, man doesn't make law, God makes law; and, elected officials don't interpret law; the Ulama does. The Ulama is the religious elite; the top-tier holy men. So the imposition of democracy on an increasingly fundamentalist populace (which will get way worse once the Kurds secede) is doomed to fail.

So to sum up:

WMD: nope.

Regime change: nope. (Besides, the regime is gone and there is no sign we'll be leaving any time soon.)

Magnet for terrorism? Quite the contrary.

Model Islamic democracy? When hell freezes over; the country is closer today to a radical Islamist Wahhabi style rule than it was before we showed up.

So what exactly IS it that those who agree with the invasion are agreeing with? Basically, I think they're agreeing that they like the archetype of the cowboy, where America wears the white hat, rides into town, and kills the bad guys. That's America's favorite movie. "If you aint with us," said Bush, playing Reagan playing John Wayne, "You're agin' us." "Bring it on!" "I'll be back!"

Only thing is, I think when this movie is over-- or probably by the second reel-- Americans are going to realize they aren't going to like the ending one bit. As one bumper sticker says, "Eey-hah! is not a foreign policy."


Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:38 PM  

At 9/23/2004 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

It's better than appeasement and weakness. "Thank you sir, may I have another" is not a foreign policy either.

At 9/23/2004 3:41 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

It looks to me like "Thank you sir may I have another" is an apt description of what's going on in Iraq right now.

Now what the hell did they do with my head...

At 9/23/2004 4:59 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

Oh yeah. Dictionary definition of "appease": "To pacify or attempt to pacify (an enemy) by granting concessions, often at the expense of principle." Not sure who is suggesting such a course in Iraq. I do know, however, who it is that has been appeasing the Saudis. Rhymes with "Tush."

At 9/23/2004 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

Iran hostages...Please sir, may I have another.
Pan Am 103...Please sir, may I have another.
Beirut marine barrack bombing...Please sir, may I have another.
TWA hijacking...Please sir, may I have another.
First World Trade Center attack...Please sir, may I have another.
Khobar Towars...Please sir, may I have another.
Mogadishu...Please sir, may I have another.
Cole bombing...Please sir, may I have another.

At 9/24/2004 3:26 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

President Bush! I’m sorry sir, I did not realize with whom I was speaking. Now I understand the apparent lack of logic and knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs you continue to exhibit here. But thanks for reading!

Question, sir. What do the events you cited above have in common?

Answer: None were perpetuated by Iraq or the Ba’athists, whose regime you eliminated in this war.

So if your logic is that you invaded Iraq as payback for all these transgressions—generally committed by Wahhabis and Islamist ideologues—well, that continues to make no sense. You might just as well have invaded Turkey. Or France. Iraq was not on a Jihad to destroy the US, no matter what Cheney and Wolfritz may have told you. Indeed they (and Hussein) were our good allies until Hussein apparently got his signals from your dad crossed and thought we had tacitly signed off on the Kuwait invasion. Iraq’s beef with the US stemmed from that action, not from any anti-western Jihad. It is the Jihadists with whom we are at war. The Ba’athists were essentially secular; no aspirations of a Muslim world. (Of course one frightening consequence of your ill-advised invasion and occupation is that you have dramatically increased the odds that the Wahhabis are behind the new Iraqi government; that is now a far more likely scenario than some sort of western democracy taking root there.)

If you want to actually learn something about the topics you discuss, let me recommend the book Imperial Hubris, by Anonymous. A career operative in the intelligence community and an expert on the Middle East, his first book was THE source on Al Qaeda (remember them? They’re the bad guys you are supposed to be fighting.) And while he sure is critical of you, if it’s any consolation he REALLY hates Clinton. Maybe then you can speak with some semblance of authority on these things.

The biggest problem we face in the Islamist sphere is the fact that the Wahhabis are damn close to overthrowing your Saudi buddies and taking control of that country. I’m talking, Osama Bin Laden as the head of state of the richest oil nation in the world. If you want to enact a constructive regime change, do it there. That’s where the powder keg is. THAT’s the place you should have invaded. Oh wait, I forgot, you summer with those guys. Well, the world be damned then. It would be poor form for you.

Anyway, one thing you will learn from Imperial Hubris is the extent to which the Iraq war—which has no foreseeable end, and no foreseeable positive outcome for us—is advantageous to the Wahhabis (you know, the actual enemies?) You have played right into their hands. Talk about “Thank you sir, may I have another.” Iraq has become, “Don’t get up sir, I’ll help myself to another.” Could you possibly have sent any more Americans, and put them in any more harm’s way from the Wahhabis who have been flooding into Iraq since you declared victory?

Suggestion: if the beheadings continue, consider declaring victory again.

Finally, I’ve noticed a funny thing lately. A lot of my Bush-supporting, Iraq-supporting friends are getting irrationally angry about Iraq. I mean, they’re just going nuts. I think what is going on is, they are experiencing opposition to the war, and the feelings are strange to them. They don’t know how to handle the cognitive dissonance that comes with the knowledge that you screwed up so badly by invading Iraq. But they do know this, even if they are slow to admit it to themselves. That’s where the irrational anger comes in. They need to blame someone, so they lash out. I feel for them. Once they admit to themselves the source of the problem, it generally goes away. Of course, not to worry—they’re all still going to vote for you. So you’ve got that going on.

At 9/24/2004 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

Irrational anger? I can practically see the sparks coming off your keyboard. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

At 9/26/2004 1:15 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

Well then, I guess you must win.

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