Monday, November 10, 2003

Lyndon B. Johnson once made a video for the troops called "Why Vietnam?". I don't think many of them appreciated it, and I don't think either the Democrats or the Republicans dare admit even to themselves the real reasons we invaded Iraq.

The Democrats say it was because of Bush claims of weapons of mass destruction. This would be very convenient. Democratic politicians who voted to authorize war would have an excuse - they were mislead. It would also give voters an excuse to change their minds without thinking too hard why they supported the original push to war. It was his fault, yea, thats it. Why were so many people swayed by this with all the WMD programs (and WMD) in places like Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea? I haven't forgotten how much harder it would have been to invade North Korea, I'll get to that.

Republican want to say the real reason was to build a successful economy in the Middle East, as a guiding light to other nations - or peoples wanting to overthrow their governments and build new nations. This is nice for them - because if confiscating WMD was the mission, failure appears likely. Even if it turns out we were right about WMD and they were moved to Syria at the last minute, that would not make the invasion a success. If rebuilding was our real goal, we would have planned for the rebuilding much more thoroughly. Better yet, we could have started with countries like Jordan and Egypt and begun projects like those proposed by Stef Wertheimer. Of course the governments in place are imperfect for the part, but we wouldn't have had to start with a war, or deal with a civil war.

The real reason is right in front of our noses if we chose to see it. We were angry, frustrated, and frightened. We had actually destroyed a fair chunk of Al Queda's leadership, but Osama was still at large amd we were beginning to feel the frustration of trying to kill an animal with no nerve center. We wanted a tangible target, a fight we could all understand, a fight which unlike North Korea we knew we could win without major sacrifices. For what it's worth, I think Bush was sincere in the sense of feeling the same emotions everyone else felt rather than cleverly manipulating them. Even those in his administration who had wanted such an invasion prior to 9/11 did not truly understand what they were unleashing, or the emotions driving their intellects.

There are many who believe that the deepest reason for fundamentalist Muslim rage is shame at the failure to achieve in modern times in the face of the economic, military, and political accomplishments of the West. I am one of them. If we set out to understand and cure a rage so deeply buried that the victims are unaware, we must first remove the beam in our own eye. We must still finish what we started - but to do that we must openly acknowledge the difficulty to ourselves, and to do that we must know how and why we started.

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