As long as people are morally consistent, I'm not trying to change anyone’s conclusions about War, Iraq, or U.S. foreign policy. But I am offering sanity checks on some oft repeated myths, fallacies or mistruths. If you want to be taken seriously, then the foundation of an argument can't be based on a falsehood.
I believe you have every right to disagree with American policy or bumbling implementations of that policy. I even respect consistent anti-war folks (those that don't flip-flop on wars based on the party letter after the President). But there’s a line where rational disagreement becomes irrational hate-mongering or disinformation (lies). The U.S. may be wrong, or you may legitimately disagree with the means or specifics of a war, but to do so rationally you have to be able to accept the facts of what we did, why we did it, and realistically accept uncomfortable truths or complexities that you might not like. And that's what I write about: the less discussed nuances of what went on and why, and destroying the wrong-headed fallacies.
The war on Islamic terror didn't start on 9/11 and wasn't about Osama Bin Laden, it was about the radical Islamic attitude that Western Modernization (and thus civilization) must be destroyed. It started decades before 9/11 with dozens of attacks on America (and Western world), it crossed borders, so Osama and 9/ 11 was only the latest symptom of the problem. We didn’t declare war on Al Queda or the Taliban, we declared war on terrorism and the nations that sponsored islamic hatred of the west (us especially); going after the most severe examples first. And there couldn't be peace, as long as Nation-States were harboring and fostering that terrorism, and Iraq made itself a great example to set (fix). You don't have to agree that justified war, but the rational can't deny the point or that Iraq did have something to do with middle eastern Islamic terrorism.
Iraq was the first preemptive war, other than the Revolutionary war, Civil War, Spanish-American, Mexican-American, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Bosnia, the first Gulf War and so on. Every war is preemptive by one side or the other, and there were almost always multiple opportunities for either side to deescalate that they chose to ignore. So "he started it", denies that you did too. The question of morality in a fight isn't who threw the first punch, but why it came to blows, and generally, one side is more justified than the other (no matter who threw the first punch).
No war is legal or illegal, there's only moral or immoral -- and all wars are immoral (some just more than others), the only real issue is whether the war is more immoral than doing nothing. Now as for justification, there was more legal justification for the Iraq War than most of the wars we got into. That still doesn't make it right, it just makes it slightly less wrong. But we had support from U.N. (1441), NATO, largest coalition ever, and a foreign country that had broken the terms of the cease fire. That's more than we had for any other war, included Korea (which was the previous war with the most faux-legality behind it).
Some say we should have waiting for France or the U.N. to come around, or that sanctions were working. We were reckless. We call these people misinformed. Sanctions have never worked at doing anything but hurting the innocent. And France and the U.N. were criminally making money off the oil-for-weapons scandal and had disincentives to ever help the Iraqi people. It was France's line that they would veto further efforts (and their efforts to remove sanctions) that made action necessary.
Some say war/violence is wrong or that it never solves anything. They don't seem to remember WWII, or the various mass murderers that violence ended. There's a saying that, "it is only when a mosquito lands on a man's testicles that he realizes there is always a way to solve problems without using violence". And it's true, too many resort to violence, too quickly. But the opposite extreme of trying to talk a serial sociopath out of rape or murder is a waste of time. While violence should be the last resort, sometimes it's better than the alternative. In Iraq you had a choice of tolerate a murdering despot, or end him.
One of the dumbest arguments about the Iraq War is "Bush lie, people died". When people use children's bumper sticker slogan in place of rational arguments, I tend to treat them accordingly. The medias and their meme is that Bush intentionally lied by listening to all the intelligence agencies in the world saying the same things: that Saddam had WMD's. And because one line in a 30 minute speech mentioned one of the many justifications for war as WMD's, that it invalidates everything else. But all that argument proves is that they're not yet ready to join the rational adult conversations on the topic.
Any media outlet that reports the fraud that "Plame was illegally and intentionally outted by the Bush administration as retaliation for Joe attacking them", is getting every fact over what happened wrong, long after they should know better. The Valerie Plame affair can be summed up: her husband (Joe Wilson) drew attention with some discredited articles, Novak found out about her in a book called "Who's Who in America", since she wasn't an active agent: no crime was committed, and why no one was prosecuted. Joe's claims showed that Saddam TRIED to secure yellowcake for his WMD program, which proved the opposite of what he thought. And Joe, Valerie and the media perpetuated the lie that they were somehow wronged, and the rubes buy in.
The Democrats were complete war Hawks before the Iraq War, trying to break their tainted image of anti-patriotic Vietnam war protestors. There are quotes from Bill Clinton, his cabinet, and most prominent Democrats from this time (Daschle, Kerry, Gore, Gephardt, Pelosi, Kennedy) all demanding immediate action on Saddam's abuses and WMD's. After the war, they changed their tune, and demanded that Bush lie, and ignore that their quotes were from 3 years before he was President.
"Muslims aren't capable of a successful democracy". People said the same thing about democracy in America or Europe before is succeeded there too.
I think the elections proved the myopia of those saying that you can't do Democracy in the Middle East. The truth is Turkey, many Asian muslim nations, and now Afghanistan and Iraq are now democracies, with some thanks belonging to the U.S. and our policies. People that said it would never succeed said the same things about Russians, Asians, Africans and others.
Some claim that we should pull out of Iraq, or we should set a date to do so. They think that President Bush should not intimidate Iran or Syria. They think the way to peace is through appeasement. This is terminal narcissism. What they fail to understand is that to sociopaths weakness is provocative: in their minds, they'd have to be foolish to NOT exploit every opportunity given. History shows that appeasement often emboldens the enemy, and often leads to more violence. They will only negotiate for peace when the alternative is worse; not before. Many people care about their self interests, not yours.
During the mid 2000's it was popular among the dim of wit, and big of mouth, to claim that Saddam was created by America. That kind of rhetoric tends to come from the uninformed, the trolls, or both. Saddam was never "our boy" like some claim.
First you need to understand the History of Israel and Palestine. Once you do that, you can loop back around and understand why Iraq had nothing to do with either. Yes, Arabs think it's a great injustice that they can't murder all the Jews and drive them into the sea. But they're a feudal tribalistic culture, so the problem isn't with Israel wanting to exist, it's with those that want to kill them and refuse to see anything they do as wrong.
A common trope is that the Iraq war was about oil -- as if that's a dumb reason for a war. It isn't, because for now that fuels our civilization -- and a madman destabilizing a large percentage of the worlds supply isn't a good thing. But there's no evidence that was our intent, and after the war we proved anyone that says that as a liar or fool. We didn't take the oil, we didn't even take out our costs for freeing the Iraqi people (and we probably should have). So anyone that says it was about oil, is simplifying a complex issue down to a soundbite that just makes them look like a silly polemic.
I’m flabbergasted that such stupidity is ever said, let alone how often I’ve heard it repeated. Even the ex-CNN director Eason Jordon made some moronic allegations that inferred as much. Here’s the fact: no country in the history of the world (and wars) has ever spent as much effort, or as much money, to avoid collateral damage and harming innocents as the United States.
Everything comes with costs, action or inaction. The price of war, the price of peace. I have no problems with people that look at all the cost benefits, and weight them differently than I do. That just shows we have different experiences and values (we're different humans). I do have a problem with people that try to distort those costs and gains, to lie to others for political gain, or to sell an ideology. Own both sides of the truth, and trust others to make up their own minds. Here are some of the sides less talked about. Not to sell only my side, but to counterbalance the side most often heard, with the ones that are as true, but less spoken of.
The left (whether European or American) makes a big deal about Guantanamo, and what the Americans are doing with “unofficial” prisoners of war, in the war on terror. And I understand there are some legitimate questions, and they should be discussed. But to be discussed we need to be rational about what we’re talking about. That means looking at what we’re doing in the context of the times we live in and the rest of the world. I'm not sure if the left is ready for that now, or ever will be, based on their reactions.
This is a yawner to me as to what it was in 2002 -- what concerns me is what it might devolve into. (Is it a slippery slope). What the Patriot Act says is that the same intrusions on our freedoms (same exact search and seizure clauses) that we allowed for the “drug war” should be allowed for “the war on terror”. I agree those intrusions are cause for raising eyebrows and should be discussed; but there were more justifications against foreign terrorists than domestic citizens. Where were the Democrats decrying the death of the Fourth Amendment in the 70’s? Or for that matter in 2011 when Obama extended the Patriot Act or signed the replacement "Freedom Act" that was the same thing under a new name?
The NYT invented this idea that Halliburton is an “evil conspiracy” that George W and Dick Cheney conspired to pay off a company for cheating us, while ignoring the corruption of their favorite Presidents; FDR, Bill Clinton, Johnson, JFK, Nixon and so on. Their FakeNews claims lead to investigations, with no evidence of corruption or payoffs, yet the myth persists in the minds of their rubes (readers).
Abu Ghraib was one small group of U.S. Soldiers who got out of hand and did something bad things (without authorization) and were caught and punished quickly. There was also a group of marines that did less, and the Brits that did about the same. Bad stuff. All caught and dealt with. The rational ask themselves, "How often does this happen? This compared to what?" The ideologically aligned media and the terrorists, want to avoid discussing that.
As far as many are concerned Iraq was a debacle. Militarily this was one of the greatest victories in the history of mankind. We took over an entire nation in a couple of weeks, with the least loss of life and collateral damage ever in this kind of campaign. While simultaneously doing it in Afghanistan. And we were hamstrung because our allies weren't trustworthy (France and EU pressured Turkey to not let us use bases there to pincer Iraq, which would have helped reduced the insurgency and saved lives).
People that say Americans are imperialists don’t understand us. So here’s a quick explanation. America has the largest court system in the world, with bulging prisons and more lawyers and lawsuits per capita because we will not tolerate injustice. Americans inherited the England's laissez-faire attitude of "live and let live"... and we live that motto - right up to point where we believe we have been wronged, or see others doing wrong. The Europeans have more tolerance of wrongdoing; they turn their heads, or say "that doesn't concern me" or “that’s just the way things are”. They tolerate the intolerable. But we want to leave the world a better place, and not just take profits exploiting the suffering of others; like the Europeans.
This had no or negative effects on terrorism. Studies have shown that poverty doesn't have a strong correlation to terrorism; totalitarianism and a lack of freedom does have a stronger correlation. So the root cause of evil is hatred -- and hatred/anger is most often because people feel they have no control (no say in what is happening), no future (because of lack of education/financial opportunities), no hope. If you want to stop terrorism (or weaken it), you have to give people hope, and give them a say in their government; freedom. We can debate if we were successful, but fighting to end a despot didn't hurt us with Iraqi's, but it drew all those with terrorist tendencies out in the open and attacking us. It exposed the problem, not created it.
Of course we can’t know if doing nothing is ever the better choice or not. But we can look at some facts.
The first is about the ethics/morality. Life is about choices and direction; do you want to move towards a better world, or allow/support evil in the name of impotence or tolerance? Americans choose the former, Europeans have a tendency to choose the latter. So they look at everything we’ve touched as tainted, and look for everything wrong to place blame on us. We compare what was to what is (or the intelligent half of our population does).
America started with much less than Europe. We had to carve a home out of a wil- derness; we could not afford inefficiency. That is why we are impatient with pomp, rituals and processes that make us less productive. Our independence is in our blood to refuse to accept form over substance, or blindly pay homage to titles, rank or authority. We believe "problems are meant to be fixed", not tolerated, ignored or worshipped. This frustrates cultures like the French, Europeans, Arabs or Asians, who often revel in these things. But that’s their cultural myopia and bigotry's; they have exactly as much responsibility to understand us as we have of them. We are not the fat and lazy cowards they think we are; well except for the fat part.
America is a nation of immigrants; built from restless and ambitious people, those unsatisfied with their station in life. For 200 years we've collected people who wouldn't put up with the bullshit in other countries. People who would risk every- thing to find where security and happiness can be built, if one just works hard. Being the land of opportunity radically affects our culture. Americans have a "can do" spirit, because all our lives, we've done what others said couldn't be done. Tell us that we can't do something and we'll probably do it just to prove to ourselves that we can. Which often infuriates others.
There is no contradiction or hypocrisy between being the warrior nation and also believing in live and let live. Some nihilists don't understand that, or don't like that. Fine, that's their problem. If you leave both us and our interests alone, then we won't bother you. If you won't leave us alone, and declare war on our ideals, then you may pay the consequences. It takes a lot to get our ire up, but so far everyone that has done so, has regretted it.
This whole war, and all the wars we’ve been involved with are about our view of the world. Live and let live. But if something is seriously wrong, we have an obligation to try to fix it. And the world has a lot more to thank us for than curse at us about; though we seldom get the former. When we see a tyrant raping a country, and threatening a region, or a problem like islamic terrorist and rogue nations sponsor- ing it, we’ll work with the world to fix it. But after 10 or 25 years of trying, we may try to fix the problem ourselves. We know we can’t fix everything, we certainly don’t do everything right, and don’t want to be the world’s police force. But every now and then, if something is really wrong with the world, we’ll try to set it right, even if a few European countries resent it because they were making money off of the suffering.