Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The War in Iraq

After 3 years, the war in Iraq still confuses me. I continue to believe that we shouldn't have gone to war, that the evidence for WMD in the country is dubious, that the pre-war intelligence was intentionally exaggerated, and that the connection between Iraq and 9/11 is non-existent. But i'm willing to believe Iraq was a potential laboratory for weapons development; in fact i bought into that argument until the UN weapons inspectors failed to find any evidence. And even though there was no relationship between the opportunistic and essentially secular regime of Saddam and the Islamic radicals who constitute our obstensible enemy, there's little doubt that he was a pyschopath who could have evolved into the Arabic world's version of Hitler.

Today you can hear reports that Iraq is on or past the brink of civil war while at the same time hearing that democratic government is beginning to take hold. I think that both are possibly true and that both are possibly false. Mostly i think that neither is really a situation that we can make sense of given our (or at least my) frames of reference. In our relatively prosperous and stable society, the institutions of democratic government function with frustrating uncertainty, and even with those institutions our country has managed to reach civil war. But i don't think the history of the US Civil War can teach us much about the deep-seeded cultural and religious differences that prevail in the middle East. So i don't think either democracy or civil war are touchstones that we can use to identify the situation in Iraq, though the latter fits better on top of chaos.

My only moral absolute in life is that i'd do anything to make a safe future for my kids. If i thought that waging war against Iraq would accomplish that, i'd be all for it. I'd enlist. But it won't, and every time i hear about needing another X billions of dollars for the war or about the nuclear ambitions of Iran or about the further erosion of our civil liberties in the name of the war on terror, i sense that we're heading toward a future that will make me long for the days of the cold war. It seems not only likely, but inevitable, that we will see more terrorist attacks in the future on US soil, maybe even nuclear attacks; that in the wake of those attacks our people will be willing to make more concessions to government surveillance; and that our economic growth will be inhibited by the dollars we'll have to spend controlling our borders and battling our nebulous enemy. If this is the outcome of protecting our interests, then i would hate to see the alternative.

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