The war MAR 18 2003
If you're a regular reader of my site, you'll notice that I don't write about current events or world news much. And in spite of the impending U.S. war with Iraq, I'm going to continue to write about other things because war & politics are a means to an end and there's more than one way to get there. That said, I've been keenly following the news and analysis since 9/11 about Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Iraq and wanted to put into words what I've been thinking about it. So, some random thoughts:
- Saddam Hussein needs to be removed from Iraq. The world will be a safer place when he is in control of nothing more than his personal free time. He has become a powerful multi-billionaire on the backs of the Iraqi people. The only way to remove him is with force; he's not going to leave by choice. Assassination is illegal and would result in political instability, so we need to go get him & his supporters *and* help stabilize the country while power is transferred to the people.
- The U.S. has done an absolutely awful job in explaining the reasons for this war to its citizens and to the other countries of the world. There's no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq; that's been a ridiculous assertion from day one. Saddam is dangerous, but he's not an immediate threat. And the argument that the U.S. has the right to go wherever they want and do whatever they want against the judgement of the rest of the world? The U.S. has always done whatever it wants in this regard, but it must scare the shit out of the rest of the world to hear it stated so clearly. The U.S. is the world's 800-pound gorilla, one that can be very petty, selfish, and stupid.
- The bottom line is, the U.S. isn't going to war with Iraq for altruistic reasons, no matter what we say. Everything the leaders of the United States have ever done, from the Revolutionary War right up to the present, they have done for money and power. Make the whole world a capitalist democracy and everyone benefits a little, but the U.S., as the biggest member of the group, benefits the most. That's what the American brand of capitalism is all about: we gain the support of the little guy by improving his situation a little so that we can improve our situation greatly.
The war with Iraq is a great economic opportunity for the U.S. and for the Republicans. Stability in the region makes for lower oil prices to fuel the U.S. and world economies. Iraq becomes another market for U.S. companies and, if all goes well, a blueprint for the friendly Muslim country. A quick war and lower oil prices will delight the stock market, which will hopefully kick start the economy. Success will breed confidence. Libya & Korea, you're next. By the time the election rolls around in 2004, the U.S. economy will be flying high on the great successes of our nation in war and economics. But only if the plan works.
- Just as unconvincing as Bush's flimsy arguments for war have been the arguments from the other side for peace. Talk about preaching to the choir. Your "blood for oil" and "give peace a chance" signs are as ridiculous and unconvincing as Bush's "well, they're evil" argument. War is bad. Duh. Any ideas as to alternatives? Praying, marching, and hoping for peace isn't going to get it done alone. Bush and the peaceniks are both equally at fault for not working hard enough at having a meaningful dialogue on Iraq, each side settling for lobbing rhetoric over the wall. Bush looks like a chimp. Great...now tell me what the fuck that has to do with anything. Blech.
- I think very little of George W. Bush as the leader of my country. He's uninspiring, unimaginative, not that intelligent, has no perspective on the world, operates in an extremely cloistered world of his own, and while I have no doubt that he's acting in what he thinks are the best interests of the country, his ideas about what those best interests are don't match mine. Bush is leading the U.S. like a large, soulless corporation, which if you know how I feel about large, soulless corporations, is about the most damning thing I can say about him.
- Journalism has always been -- and still is -- about money. Selling newspapers, magazines, fizzy water, cable television subscriptions, etc. Reporting and analyzing the news fairly and accurately is a secondary concern, if it's a concern at all. Believing that things have ever been otherwise is naive.
Most of the news you see on TV is marketing (at the local level, it's all marketing). Cable news networks have been selling this war for months. War is good for them and it's in their best interests to help egg Bush on. Brian Williams live from Kuwait is going to make more money for MSNBC than a report on the huge scam that is the American health care system.
Weblogs are supposedly the antidote to this. With some very notable exceptions (journo Kevin Sites blogging live from Iraq and this Iraqi's personal weblog), this just isn't true. Most webloggers "covering" the current situation are either peace advocates unwilling to enter into a debate (see above) or too busy whipping each other into a hawkish frenzy in the pursuit of getting linked, being seen, driving up page views, and trying oh-so-hard to scale Mt. Instapundit. (Probably going to get some mail about this one.)
- Everyone, from the U.S. gov't to France all the way down to little old me, is being hypocritical about this whole thing. I'm working on a theory: hypocrisy is natural and necessary, and we should stop treating it as a completely bad thing. People, corporations, groups, and countries can't be entirely self-consistent with their views & beliefs and still function.
It's all much more complicated than this. All the arguments out there for and against are necessarily shallow. We're getting very small pieces of the whole story from TV reports, newspaper articles, weblog postings, and magazine pieces. No one has the time to read or write a complete analysis of the situation (which would be a social, political, religious, scientific and economic history of the world from 5000 B.C. up until 2 minutes ago...basically all human knowledge).
Summing up, Bush bad, war bad, this war not so bad even though bad Bush reasons also bad.