There are lots of times over the past week or two that I’ve wanted to post my two cents about what’s going on in Iraq. I’ll freely admit that I’ve obsessively kept up with what the media tells us is going on, mainly via a few really good Web sites. I’ve had theories about what’s really happening based on what the news tells us, I’ve made predictions to myself and to some people I talk to about what will happen next, and I’ve amateurishly plumbed the mental state of Saddam Hussein, George Bush, and plenty of the other people involved. But I haven’t posted any of that stuff here, and I’m glad about it.
In some ways, I think that the way this war is being treated both by the professionals and amateurs is far too dangerously close to the way we watch sports. When people get together to talk about sports, they speculate about why people performed badly in the last game, what play the coach will call next, and what moves their favorite team needs to make to get ready for next season. Most of the fun comes from prognosticating and then hoping against hope that you’re right, because then your fellow fans will see just how smart you are. I’m not saying that this analysis isn’t useful, either in sports or in war, but it’s also self indulgent. And, the bottom line for me is that I’m completely uninformed. If I think I know what’s really going on, I’m just engaging in self deception.
I could have talked about what finding a huge chemical weapons factory in Najaf means for the war effort, but we still don’t know whether that’s really what was found. I could talk about the disallowed Scud missiles that Iraq has been firing at Kuwait, except that it turns out they’re not Scud missiles at all. I could be discussing the mass surrender of Iraq’s 51st Infantry Division, except those reports were false. I could be talking about the positions and plans of various US units, except that I don’t really know where they are.
Posting has been thin here lately mainly because I’m not commenting on most of the news that I’m following. I hope that as many of our soldiers as possible return home safely, I hope that as few Iraqis as possible have their lives destroyed by this war, and I hope that when it’s all said and done, the world isn’t a worse place than it was before the war started. I’m not making any predictions, though.