Saturday, November 04, 2006

I Think I'll Tick You Off

I am not unhappy with the shift in approval for the War in Iraq, I may be a tad bit grumpy about its roots and motivations. One doesn't need to go far to find former Conservative backers and Neocons recanting and the general public's mind set now seems negative. This is good for getting us out of that quagmire, but the whys and where fors of it count for something.

I have a very clear memory of the emotions displayed during "Shock n Awe" and reports from embedded journalists, I think "rah-rah" best describes the scene. I also remember a sinking feeling I had, all this glitz masking the reality of what's happening on the ground and obscuring the motivations for doing it. Even really good war movie trailers paled in comparison, the night sky illuminated by flashes followed by the sound of rolling booms, ghostly images of troops through night vision, great capable machines doing their functions, what a Production, brought to you by Bushco, Inc. Maybe some reality ought to have intruded, this show meant shattered buildings and blasted lives.

I don't pretend to be a pacifist, though I may admire the philosophical underpinnings, I distrust the real world practice. I repeatedly advocated using complete military might in Afghanistan and I was horrified by the Administration's "do it on the cheap" methodology. I have studied war sufficiently to know that if you are going to use that option, it is absolutely necessary to completely break the will of your opponent. This involves the tragedy of making opposition so dangerous and so costly that even an unreasonable human will not engage in it. This means killing, injuring, and destruction on a scale we Americans cannot relate to in real life experience. It doesn't mean pretty pictures, it means the absolute horror of war. Then the victor must engage in the real reconstruction of a shattered nation, and this involves more than just buildings.

The run up to the war in Iraq involved cherry picked "intelligence" and the demonization of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was an easy target in that he was a despicable human, but pre-Gulf War, not bad enough to offend the Adminsitration's "wisemen." The reaction to the intelligence is more troubling, intelligence was not brought forward that provided concrete examples of danger to the US, instead, even all dressed up, any critical thinking would have revealed guesswork. Concrete intelligence - UN Inspectors - was dismissed, despite the near impossibility of proving a negative. The government, media, and public accepted what they rightly should have recognized as guess work. There are serious implications in this acceptance of no more than an opinion.

This indicates an acceptance of the idea that the Government is good and would not mislead us for its own ends. This indicates that the Government is so special that they are exempt from the norms of rationality, the demand that action be backed by evidence. Further this exemplifies a culture of personality rather than law. I'm afraid this also evidences a rather bloodthirsty and thrill oriented society. The polling of approval for this experiment shows huge acceptance of and approval for going to war in Iraq and those number cannot possibly only reflect nutcase Rightwingers.

Now over 60% of the public disapproves and large numbers of Congressmen and pundits rail against the very thing they boosted. The real question involves the driving force for this disapproval. The quagmire aspect is frequently referred to, as though in WWII everything went swimmingly from the outset. The Neocons are now attacking the Administration for ineptitude, the rationale seems to be that it was a good idea done in by asses. These asses were in full public view years before the War, their "ineptitude" isn't a new occurrence. The Neocons refuse to understand that this is an ideological failure, that simply knocking the head off a government does not achieve cultural change. In history books and documentaries the requirements for cultural change are sufficiently demonstrated by WWII, as are the failures of the Wars in Vietnam, Korea, Gulf, ad nauseum. For an example of how not to reconstruct we need look no farther abroad than the Civil War.

The public's reaction may be more understandable considering the role played by media, but is in the end, hugely distressing. No matter the media drumbeat or governmental lying, the public is responsible for its uncritical acceptance of guesswork. It would take a very large book to dissect this tendency, I am only calling attention to it. The question that occurs is to what extent the current dissatisfaction is exactly as poorly based. War is costly in monetary terms and in human terms, it always is, not just in Iraq and ignoring that reality makes war easier to indulge in. Is the public learning something or simply tired of it?

Corporate ownership of media and the constriction of ownership must play a large role in media's reportage and slant of facts and opinion. There is a huge effect on corporate health involved in government spending and tax policies, the more interlinked government and media ownership is, the less reliable it is as a source. The constriction of ownership leads to a less varied news and thus a more consistent view point and reportage. Turning against the war may be reflective of public sentiment but a larger effect could be the economic consequences of this administration's policies in general.

Now I'll see about ticking you off, what was your stand? If it has changed, why has it changed? Have you learned anything about Government from this exercise in neocon ideology? Or, are you simply tired of it all? Has the lack of progress, the death and destruction just disgusted you, or is it a question of what the proper actions of the United States are, its citizens and its representatives? I am not at all satisfied that a meaningful realization has occurred.

Yes, I opposed this mess from the outset and not due to my antipathy for GWB. I opposed it because history showed clearly what happens when a powerful President asks for what he wants from underlings. I opposed it on the basis of Afghanistan and the Adminsitration's reluctance to accept cost. I opposed it because it is not the function of the government of the US to engage in regime change, its warmaking capabilities are for our defense, actual defense. My opposition versus the current general opposition is not a function of being more moral or more intelligent, but it is a case of critical thinking being engaged in.

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