October 29, 2007
Why the war in Iraq makes sense
The fighting in Iraq and the war on terrorism actually does make sense in some ways. Bear in mind I'm not talking normatively, but about what has actually happened and why.
Think about what was going on in this country between 9/11 and the first troops being sent to Iraq. 9/11 shattered the mass American psyche of invincibility, and exacerbated the economic slowdown that was occurring. Accounting scandals and corporate collapses had rocked the trust of America in its economic system. Americans needed something besides sitting around and hearing about how bad the U.S. was doing.
There were two possible attitudes to have. The first was to say, "look, I know we're a bit down now, but if we work hard, we'll overcome this just like we've overcome everything else in our history." The second attitude is to get defensive and say, "uh-uh, my dick's still bigger than yours and I'll prove it." I think either attitude would have resonated with the American public. Unfortunately, the American leadership chose the latter and decided to prove how tough we still were by invading a country that's maybe one one hundredth our size.
They marketed the idea to the American people. They gave America an enemy and America responded. People flocked to join the military, not because of the G.I bill but because they were proud to be an American and wanted to defend it against its enemy. It just so happens that my class was in the age group that military recruiters like to target, and I know several people that went into the military for that very reason. A not insignificant part of me wanted to join up because of that.
And it makes sense from another perspective too. America, like any person, is far more productive when it has a goal to achieve or an enemy to beat. Hitler helped pull us out of the Depression, the Soviets helped push us to the moon, and Saddam Hussein was supposed to restore America as the world's only superpower. The problem is that George W. Bush is no Franklin Roosevelt and Saddam Hussein, as terrible as he was, was no Adolf Hitler, but it was the best we had at the time. The people that flew planes into buildings were really faceless assailants. There was no one driving force that could be identified and directly assaulted, so we created one.
Imagine a bee stings you from behind and you don't see it happen. You turn around and your friend points out a nearby beehive, so you assume it came from there, and you destroy the entire hive and all of the bees inside it. That hive is Iraq. The person being stung was the American people and the friend was the Administration. We didn't know whether or not the bee was in or from that hive, but the friend said so and we listened. There's a lot of debate on how much this friend knew, but I'd be willing to guess that Hanlon's razor applies somewhere.
The urge to retaliate is a strong one, and I think a lot of what has transpired can be attributed to that urge to lash out against what hurt us. It's easy to sit now and criticize what has happened, and I don't deny that massive mistakes have been made, but hindsight's always 20/20. When you remove all context, and I think psychological context is the most often ignored, then there are a lot of things that suddenly look horrendously stupid, but made so much sense at the time.
"That hive is Iraq. "
I thought that Hive was Afghanistan and Iraq was some other hive that tried to sting my dad.
Or actually, that hive was Saudi Arabia but they make honey that we really like so heck, lets say the hive was Afghanistan, because some of the bees hang out there. But Iraq bees tried to sting my dad we can't forget, so as long as we're in the bee bashing business, we're coming for that next.
But don't worry, you're by far not the first to link 9/11 with Iraq... http://www.google.com/search?q=9%2F11+iraq
Comment by: Dan K at 12:48 PM, October, 29, 2007
Read what I said. I didn't relate 9/11 to anything. I said that Americans had been attacked and the Administration, whom we trusted at the time, pointed to Iraq as the enemy, and America responded.
The key to the bee analogy is that we, the American people, did not see the bee sting, i.e., we didn't know exactly what bee stung us at the time. The second person, who I called a friend because everyone trusted and was galvanized behind the government after 9/11, pointed to that particular hive as the culprit. I made a point to add, "We didn't know whether or not the bee was in or from that hive, but the friend said so and we listened," because at the time, the (recently stung) American public didn't know any better.
Everyone trusted the Administration at the time and so the motives were assumed to be 100% benevolent. However, motives are irrelevant as to why they chose Iraq, only that they did and Americans believed.
I left out Afghanistan because that was truly an international effort, whereas Iraq was mostly a purely American venture.
Comment by: Neil at 5:04 PM, October, 29, 2007
"Imagine a bee stings you from behind and you don't see it happen. You turn around and your friend points out a nearby beehive, "
Sorry, you're right, there it is^
I guess I got swept up in the beehive analogy and got excited.
Comment by: Dan K. at 5:51 PM, October, 29, 2007
I understand, it's way easy to get worked up about the whole issue of Iraq and everything that's happened since. I think that's why the public debate tends to be so ineffective a lot of the time.
Comment by: Neil at 1:35 AM, October, 31, 2007