A War for Unstated Reasons

On the comments to this thread someone asked those of us who had opposed the Iraq War from the beginning exactly why we had done so. Below is part of my answer. (The other part was just that I had expected the war to turn out about the way it actally did turn out):

As for the pretexts, I did not believe that Saddam was a threat to the US, I did not believe that he had anything to do with 9/11, I did not believe that he had or would soon get nuclear weapons, and I did not believe that chemical and biological weapons should count as WMD. As time went on, I also did not believe that Bush intended to bring democracy to the Middle East, or would be able to do so if he tried.
The specifics aren’t the most important point. There was a terrible breakdown of the political process and also of the media, and this breakdown was the result of deliberate sabotage. The decision to go to war was a dishonest stampede with many collaborators, among them Beinart. The public was basically excluded from whatever the actual process of decision-making was, and was never informed of the actual reasons for the war.
I suspect that some of the more militarist and imperialist warbloggers did, in fact, correctly understand Bush’s motives.
It’s an enormous problem when political decisions of major significance are made on the basis of secret motives. Even the supporters who think they understand what’s going on (nudge-nudge wink-wink) canfind themselves being cheated in the end. It amounts to unconstrained, unchecked personal rule of exactly the type that the English tradition and the American constitutional tradition have long tried to prevent. And one consequence is that ordinary Americans who oppose the big plan on the basis of the weakness of its official justifications cannot be argued with, but only can be vilified and accused of treason.

3 thoughts on “A War for Unstated Reasons

  1. Very well put. I tried to articulate these feeleings (even to many of my more liberal friends) before the war and many just couldn’t absorb it. Many were just too shell-shocked form the 9/11 tragedy and the endless play of it in the media to think objectively, I think. Now, many just don’t want to acknowledge that they were bamboozled.
    What was the real secret reason(s)for invading and occupying Iraq illegally? Who knows for sure what all the reasons are, but I suspect it had alot to do with the profiteering by defense contractors and oil companies that could occur if we got ourselves into another quagmire in an oil-rich part of the world. If that was the prime factor, I guess the war was really a success, eh?
    Excuse me while I go and vomit.

  2. This is one of the most disgusting, hate filled and nonsensical arguments ever presented about this and I don’t have time to dig into which right wing shadow groups might be funding Raymond Kraft who makes a very distorted argument that we are fighting in Iraq to save liberals in America–although we are too foolish to know, so they are trying to get it into high school and college classes:
    read it and vomit again.

  3. I would agree with all these points and simply add that they served, along with other points I could enumerate, as the foundation of my belief at the time that a war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq could not be a profitable enterprise. It was clear to me that it would cost too much (and I underestimated how much it would ultimately cost) and produce nothing but trouble.
    Supporters of the war often cling to the propositions that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was so terrible that it was worth paying any price not just to contain or subdue it, but to put the regime out of business now without bothering to worry about what will arise in its place afterward. I didn’t believe the lies about the WMD or the lies about Iraq and 9/11, so the questions I put then to the war supporters was very simple: Why Iraq and not other scarier countries? Why now and not before?
    The answers to those questions were never forthcoming. Eventually, I managed to pin a couple of warbloggers down. You know what the answers were in both cases? Paraphased: 1) Why Iraq: because that’s where it’s doable, and 2) Why now: because it wasn’t doable before.
    I shit you not. At no point in the process were these people thinking about costs and consequences. That’s why my arguments about how much it would cost and what we were really likely to get back for our trouble were received as “You’re just objectively pro-Saddam.” It was like I was speaking Esperanto or something.

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