Speeding Full-Tilt Down the Road to War

I saw a really interesting Frontline special on PBS the other night, The Long Road to War. A really good (and balanced) accounting of the events — both public and behind-the-scenes — that led up to Gulf War II: The Vengeance, or as I guess they’re officially calling it, Operation: Bullshit.

I should offer some clarification here: I’m no “dove”; if anything, I tend toward the hawkish viewpoint. Does Saddam Hussein deserve to be taken out of power (or just “taken out”)? Hell, yes. So do any number of other despots out there. Should the Unites States use force to accomplish that goal? Speaking strictly theoretically, I’d say yes. “With great power comes great responsibility,” to paraphrase the wisdom of the great Stan Lee.

Unfortunately, this is not a theoretical world. The preparation for this action has been one of the biggest foreign relations blunders in American history. Duh-bya has proven that cramming for a test on foreign affairs does not actually instill knowledge. Learning the names of foreign nations (and almost learning to pronounce them) is the least aspect of diplomacy; it’s like people expressing amazement at an actor’s memorizing all of their lines — if that were all there were to it, any number of people could win an Academy Award. Bush took a (stereo)typical Texan’s approach of shoot first, ask questions later. Or in this case, come right out and say you’re going to invade a foreign nation unprovoked, then ask for approval from the rest of the world. Can anyone with a brain in their head think this is a good way to develop a “coalition”?

Then they add a series of outrageous lies in order to “sell” the war. There is no connection whatsoever between Iraq and al Qaeda. None. No matter how Monkeyman tries to tie the two together, they are completely unrelated — except, of course, that they’re both Muslim. And as anyone who embarks on a self-described “crusade” (literally, a holy war against the Muslim world), he doesn’t think the American people will make much of a distinction. And they probably won’t; they were obviously gullible enough to give enough votes to Bush to allow him to seize the presidency, and religious tolerance has never been a hallmark of American society.

Does Saddam Hussein have prohibited weapons systems? Probably so, but if the circumstantial evidence the administration has presented so far hasn’t been enough to convince the world, then that needs to be our top priority — exactly the point the French have been trying to make with their push to continue weapons inspections. Will the discovery of weapons caches by American troops after the invasion be seen as credible? Maybe, maybe not. After all, American authorities have never planted or manufactured evidence before, right?

Not to impugn either the actions or the intentions of the troops actually doing the work. I’m sure the vast majority of our troops are doing their best to do their jobs correctly, efficiently, and ethically. But this isn’t a question of intentions, or even “the truth”: It’s about perception. And Bush’s dogged determination to invade, no matter the consequences, has completely botched the world’s perception of us, probably beyond repair.

It’s bugged me that the news media has consistently been referring to a potential war for the past several months. I know they have to cover themselves, but come on — there’s never been anything “potential” about it.

I think I’m going to start following the Discordian Society’s endorsement for every presidential election, Grover Cleveland (whose birthday yesterday is considered a Discordian holiday). After all, they make a pretty good point: He’d never start an unprovoked war.


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