Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reaching for Humanity

Jonathan Rauch has a column in last Friday’s National Journal which, unlike his usual commentary, I see mostly as pretty much total tripe. Rauch is usually a rather profound thinker, and it’s difficult to imagine how he can come up with the same nonsense that former war supporters seem to use to justify themselves. It’s a variation on the ”The war was a good idea but Bush screwed it up. theme. Rauch's column is in the ”I was wrong because I trusted Bush” meme.

George W. Bush had more than his share of bad luck in Iraq. He bet that Saddam would have an active nuclear or at least biological-weapons program; that Iraq's social and physical infrastructure would be functional; that the war would be short. None of those bets was crazy, but he lost all three.

Oh, barf. None of that was bad luck. None of those were bets, and had they been they would have been utterly insane.

A good many people knew that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, nuclear or otherwise. The IAEA told the world that it had been given free access and had found none of any description and no facilities for making any. Saddam admitted the inspectors, it was George Bush who told them to leave Iraq because we were about to start bombing. I knew this before the war, why did not Rauch know it?

Why would Bush think that Saddam’s physical infrastructure would be intact when, as the first phase of this ill-advised invasion, we bombed it into oblivion in a campaign proudly advertised as “Shock and Awe"? Why would he expect the social infrastructure to be intact when Paul Bremer fired it in it’s entirety?

Just as a point of information, bombing electric generation and water treatment plants which serve civilian populations is a war crime. The United States and Israel do it routinely.

Finally, the war was short. It is the ongoing occupation that has dragged on and proven costly. No one forecast any problem with the war itself, but there were many warnings, including from within the administration itself, that the occupation would be horribly problematic. Those warnings were ignored, in many cases the people giving them fired, and all of the worst predictions have come to pass.

It just amazes me the lengths to which people will go, people who are otherwise intelligent and insightful, to justify themselves in having supported the beating of war drums five years ago. They cannot simply say that they did not listen to reason because they were afraid or that they got caught up in the demagoguery of a petty tyrant. They have to come up with some pseudo-intellectual rationale to justify behavior that was actually driven by the lizard brain, that was the triumph of fear, anger and revenge over humanity.

And now they want their souls back.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:34 AM

    Saddam was known to have had active nuclear ambitions (until the Israelis bombed their reactor). And he had chemical weapons and was not hesitant to use them. And was not hesitant to use conventional means to further his dictatorial and politicial ambitions. So it might not be unreasonable to think he had some WMD's laying around or cached or something. This is an plausible, albeit thin, rationale. The war crimes against the Kurds might be a better reason.

    The big "however" to this is that no one ever found any WMD's prior to the Iraqi invasion. Even after Gulf War I, they did not find much, if any evidence, even with the intransigence and roadblocks he threw up. I have my own opinions on how that should have been handled, but that's perhaps another topic. They are too easy to hide (if you had any).

    in any war; I don't care when, how, what weapons, in any historical context has ALWAYS damaged civilian society and infrastructure where it has happened. Any person with a brain should know this, especially military people. I can only hope that the politicians were told, but of course they listened to their own counsel. Well, they ought to listen to the voters, who whould now toss them out of office. (for this and other reasons,but maybe that's another topic as well).

    Saddam was like Tito in Yugoslavia, a strongman holding together a conglomeration of ethnic, tribal, religious groups that basically disliked each other but were held together by force. What happened to Yugoislavia after Tito died? Years of genocide, mass rape, killings, brutalizations, ethnic cleansings, ineffectual UN "protection" (they could not even protect themselves, how pathetic is that... yet another topic). Anyway, that situation has settled by now, but you have 6 different countries plus years of physical & social destruction.

    Of course, when politicians thinks like 6 yr olds, in the here and now and what's good for me, me, me... this is what you get. Time to elect adults, not children. Hey, that's another topic! Oh, Bill addressed that time and again...