Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Did Dubya think he was doing the right thing?

Why does it matter if Dubya thought he was doing the right thing? It's possible that Dubya thought he was doing the right thing. So did the Son of Sam serial killer. Whether or not Dubya thought he was doing the right thing misses the crucial point that Dubya and his cronies lied to the world to convince us that we needed to invade Iraq. Tens of thousands of Iraqis, and almost two thousand American soldiers, have so far died as a consequence, and the killing seems to be far from over.

I don't know how one could calculate the value of human life against the value of political stability in the Middle East, even supposing that stability can be attained by waging war. This calculation is particularly difficult when I take into account the small problem that by political stability we (the USA, certainly, but other countries as well) have meant in the past that the interests of the powerful and wealthy were protected by conserving the current state of affairs. I see no sign that these priorities have changed.

I know that Saddam Hussein and his cronies were very bad people, and perhaps their removal means that they'll have no more opportunities to create misery. However, the war and the way Dubya and his cronies are chosing to fight it have created an endless opportunity for people who as a group are just as awful as Saddam Hussein to come and make at least as many people miserable. I don't believe there is any way for our military to stop them, not because our military can't fight effectively, but because terrorism is not a problem that can be solved by military force.

If everything goes well, then the Iraqi government will remain stable and will eventually, in one or two years, be able to invite the last of our soldiers to leave the country. This was the scenario that Dubya hoped for, back in May 2003, when he declared "Mission Accomplished." Nothing that has happened in Iraq since then has justified that optimism. Instead, it's likely that our military will be stuck there for the next two years, until our position has become politically so unpopular that we're forced to pull out. After that all hell is likely to break loose.

Some of Dubya's fanboys want us to compare Iraq to WWII. "We spent four years fighting Jerry and the Japs," they say. "We lost over 100,000 soldiers in that war. Compared to that, Iraq is a walk in the park!" We're told that German Nazi insurgence during the occupation was just as deadly as the terrorism and insurgence in Iraq, but that's an awfully thin stretch. The postwar insurgence in Germany barely rates a footnote against a backdrop of a country completely devastated by war and at the verge of mass starvation, and was pretty much over by the end of 1946. When they write the history books on Dubya's little war, the terrorists won't be a footnote. (Well, this is the War on Terror, you say. I say, suppose we fought the War on Drugs by handing out free samples of crystal meth?)

Of course, the chicken hawks who were beating the war drums back in 2001, and who have been cheering on the current state of affairs, will then loudly proclaim that it was the liberals who lost the war on terrorism. If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.