Gary Kamiya’s NYRB-esque anti-war piece in Salon yesterday is worth the read. He kind of digs at the heart of the thing that has made me angriest about the Bush administration’s push for war in Iraq since its inception right after 9/11. I would hope that readers of this site already know that my goal is to come at all issues with a spirit of inquiry. My goal is to figure out which questions to ask, find the answers to the degree possible, and then make a judgement. My judgement often changes when more facts come to light (as it has many times in trying to ascertain how we should handle our ongoing problems with Iraq).
With the Bush administration, I have never seen that spirit if inquiry at work. They started with a conclusion: we must invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. From there, they’ve tried on any number of arguments which mysteriously melt away when attacked only to be replaced by others. I have no respect for someone who searches for facts to support an argument instead of making an argument based on the known facts. I won’t hash out all of the arguments from the pro-war camp yet again, but they all tend to fall along two axes: Iraq is a present threat to us, and allowing Saddam Hussein’s regime to stand would be immoral. Whenever you talk about the fact that we face greater threats (imminent nuclear proliferation in North Korea), you get hit with the moral argument. Whenever you talk about other immoral regimes (a list too long for this space), you get hit with the threat argument.
In literally every other country in the world, people have seen just how transparent the manipulation is. Americans see it, too, but they’re torn between fear (pushed hard by the Bush administration), loyalty to our soldiers, who will do as they’re ordered no matter what, and the general American impulse to give our government the benefit of the doubt. I can see scenarios where invading Iraq makes sense, but we’ve blown it. It’s too late. We’re going to do it anyway.