There's a lot of historical revisionism going on about the origin of the war in Iraq. Mostly, it's coming from people who supported the war initially, but now want an excuse for jumping ship. There are two major groups: first, the Democratic politicians who are completely consistent; they're in favor of a war when it's politically expedient and then against it for the same reason. No surprise there. Democrats even praise tax cuts when it helps them get elected.
And the second group: everybody else who endorsed the war initially for a variety of reasons and with a variety of qualifications, but somehow were never quite able to imagine the United States getting its ass kicked by a bunch of fanatical savages. Some of these people are a little embarrassed. What they don't realize is that they don't need the help of a revised history. A simple "Bush fucked it up" is sufficient. Not that revising history is ever good or useful.
Let's take a moment to look back at some of the actual reasons for going to war with anyone after the attacks of September 11. Here are two fundamental ones:
- Eliminate short-term threats to American national security
- Scare the living shit out of other antagonistic governments so they reign in the Islamoclowns within their borders, for fear that they might be next to be demolished
Both of the above seek to eliminate threats. Attacking Afghanistan (which many in the current anti-war left want you to forget that they were also against) helped to accomplish both these goals. Attacking Iraq could have helped achieving the second, but it didn't.
When Bush's goal changed from eliminating national security threats to establishing democracy and "liberating the people of Iraq", that's when I became convinced that it was all downhill from there. You might argue that this was his goal from the beginning. You might be right. (The campaign, after all, was called "Operation Iraqi Freedom", not "Operation One Motherfucker at a Time".)
But a scenario was at least conceivable in which the US took out Iraq then proceeded to make further demands of countries such as Iran and North Korea, and either have those demands met or take out key targets in those countries as well. I believe that Bush was right in that a clear statement and example in the Middle East could have a large, beneficial effect throughout the region. The nature of my disagreement involves the subtle difference between establishing democratic governments in nations of savages versus the dropping of a shitload more fucking bombs.
Let's dismiss some other historically revisionistic bullshit. "Weapons of Mass Destruction" was clearly nonsense. By "nonsense", that's not to say that Saddam Hussein did not claim he had them, or that the US did not have evidence to believe he possessed them (both are true), but rather that the decision to go to war was obviously made before the Bush administration issued this as the reason. Didn't everyone know that at the time?
Another bit of horseshit: the current focus on whether the Iraqi people are "better off" now or before the war. This is Bush's own fault. He made that the issue, and he discarded his pledge to defend American national security when he made it the issue. He believes the neo-con position that creating democracy will be beneficial to US interests. He's wrong. Majority rule in a country of religious fanatics isn't gonna help anyone in the long run. His desire to spread "democracy", and not "democratic republics" (which uphold personal and economic freedom) helps to illuminate all his socialistic, domestic policies.
Just to emphasize the point, please note that instituting a democratic republic of the American sort in the Middle East in the short term is an insane fucking proposition. It would be a decent guess to assume that an idiotic belief like this must be inspired by religious faith. If it were rational thought, then it was rational thought based on an impressive web of previous irrational thinking.
A mistake I won't make again is to make up scenarios in my own mind that are consistent with an administration's actions but differ from its words, and then simply give the politicians the benefit of the doubt that they are enacting the right scenario. I remember thinking that Bush might intentionally be avoiding a large-scale "war against Islam" while simultaneously taking action that would both discourage governments from allowing terrorists to breed as well as positioning the US military for possible strikes elsewhere in the Middle East.
As Daniel Pipes has said repeatedly, our failure to name the Islamist enemy has been our downfall. When you're shooting guns and dropping bombs, it helps to let people know whom you're trying to kill and why.