Blogs > Liberty and Power > Me and the War in Iraq

Aug 8, 2005 1:02 pm

Me and the War in Iraq

I haven't blogged much about the war here because my opposition to it is less strong than most of my co-bloggers. I described myself as "marginally opposed" to the War in Iraq from the start, with the "marginally" mostly due to not wanting to be associated with the variety of other questionable causes of the anti-war movement. I did and still do share the skepticism of many of you about the ability of the US gov't to rebuild a nation when it can't even deliver the mail. However, I also believe that the demise of Saddam Hussein, taken in isolation, was a significant step forward for human freedom, and was willing to be convinced it might be worth it. I also have more sympathy for the plight of Israel in the turmoil of the mid-east than perhaps others here do (obligatory note: that does not let Israel off the hook for its many wrongdoings).

In the last few weeks, however, I find myself becoming increasingly radicalized in my opposition to the war. It's not just that the costs of the activity that deposed a dictator are rapidly increasing, especially the body counts of both American soldiers and innocent Iraqis, nor prison abuses in and of themselves, nasty as they are. It's more a sense that this whole operation was done on the fly, with no framing ethical or philosophical concerns (of course why I or anyone should expect war to have such concerns is a good question, as I awake from my slumbers...). Now, as more prison abuse stories come out (see especially this one on the treatment of women prisoners), I'm more and more convinced that we don't, and never did, know what we're doing there, and the result of that ignorance, as it frequently is with state action, is that the "worst get on top" to paraphrase a chapter title from Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. In the absence of the requisite knowledge to do what is "right," those with a comparative advantage in the making of war without concern about what's "right" will rise to the top. When agents of the US government begin to use the same sorts of justification for the inhumane treatment of prisoners that totalitarian regimes do, even if it's only a small fraction of the military as a whole, then it's time to step back and ask just what it's all about. If this is the road away from serfdom... no thanks.

To quote one of the great philosophers of the 20th century:

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!


Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

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Chris Matthew Sciabarra - 5/24/2004

Bravo, Steven. Bravo.

Brian Kelly Lind - 5/23/2004


I assume you have already read the article in todays NY Times Magazine about the photos and war. If not here is the link, it is extremely powerful definatly the best article I've read about what these photos really "mean" so far.

My teaser and favorite quote:

"Considered in this light, the photgraphs are us.... If there is something comparable to what these pictures show it would be some of the photographs of black victims of lynching taken between the 1880's and 1930's, which show Americans grinning beneath the naked mutilated body of a black man or woman hanging behind them from a tree. The lynching photographs were souvenirs of a collective action whose participants felt perfectly justified in what they had done. So are the pictures from Abu Ghraib."

Truely a facinating article...


bob torres - 5/23/2004

I've been opposed to the war from the start (and caught up with some of the 'questionable' causes of the antiwar movement to boot), but I do agree that the US has truly done this on the fly. From the start, the war projections were wildly optimistic. I think part of this comes from good old fashioned hubris, and another big dose of it comes from the 'stovepiping' of intelligence that Bush, Cheney, et al. engaged in after 9-11. I'm also convinced that the problem with torture is one that goes up the ranks and stops with Rumsfeld, or possibly even Bush. As such, punishing a few soldiers is an interesting diversion, but it doesn't get at the heart of the problem.