Tag Archives: war

Why we fight

Because George W Bush, despite his initial appearance as a mediocrity on about the same level as Al Gore, is undeniably the worst President in American History.

The last 7 years have been the steepest cumulative decline in American power, prestige and prospects for the future in its history.

And John McCain, who has spent most of his life being the maverick he claims to be, has clearly decided in recent weeks to be the standard bearer of the Bush era’s most crucial and harmful errors.

You can give GWB Year 1 the benefit of the doubt. An ineffectual first 9 months, followed by a surprising and inspiring month after Sept 11 as the world united around the horror and outrage presented a mixed bag under increasingly difficult circumstances.

But the key moments in late 2001/early 2002 where the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld incompetence let Al Qaeda principals escape from Afghanistan into the Pakistani tribal areas, and the later revelations that they had dusted off the gratuitous and dangerously distracting Iraq agenda as early as the afternoon of that tragic day, marked the clear beginning of a ruinous folly.

The failure to prosecute the War in Afghanistan.

The unprovoked war of aggression on Iraq, certainly an appalling regime, but one of maybe 40 such monsters around the world. And not a clear threat, let alone an aggressor.

The lies about the foundation for that war. Weapons of Mass Destruction, visions of democracy flowering, the shameless lies linking Iraq and Al Qaeda and the terrifying gullibility of those who facilitated.

The complete lack of any preparation for Iraq after the month of war.

The suppression of American’s rights through the Patriot Act(s) and the shameful abdication of moral leadership through a formal protocol of torture.

Turning the horror of most of the world at an atrocity committed against Americans into a broad contempt and increased hatred for America.

Funding the Iraq folly through deficits financed by China, and feeding off the blood of America’s courageous volunteers and – most shamefully – the feeding of the Reserves into the maw of combat.

The abdication of responsibility for repairing America’s infrastructure or taking care of the basic needs of all of its citizens in efforts deemed “too expensive” that would have cost less than this unnecessary war.

Now the very economic foundation appears to crumble, the military is worn out, America’s enemies abroad are emboldened and her friends besmirched.

Osama bin Laden in his wildest dreams could not have inflicted the damage on the United States that George Bush has.

Which is why we fight.


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Conservative and Christian?

A reader  writes:

Some things I don’t understand.

I thought Republicans, Conservatives stood for fiscal responsibility.
McCain is supportive of continuing the Iraq war.
That is at a cost of not billion, but HUNDREDS of billions of dollars.
67% of Americans opposse this costly war.
Why would anyone support that?

I thought Consevatives had strong religious values.
Yet they support the use of force in Iraq.
What would Jesus say about that?

McCain is now trumpeting the “change” chorus.
But he voted 90% with Bush.
How does that square with you?
That’s not change; that’s more of the same (failed) policies.

I am not sure when I will stop being surprised at the possibility for hypocrisy of  religious extremists – of any religion. We saw it on 9/11 and we saw it this week on 9/3, 9/4, 9/5…

Most of the people I know who are strongly anti religion were either raised as atheists or were raised in an oppressive religion that abused them. Often quite literally, physically and sexually. I was raised a Christian, but in a very laissez faire church and by non-psychotic parents. I have read the entire Bible, won awards in religious studies classes, and  volunteered for religious charities.  I think the message of Jesus, particularly the book of Matthew is a profound moral path. I find the history of religion fascinating. So I come at this not from the perspective of an unwashed heathen or bitter apostate. But I find myself unable to participate today for two reasons:

  • I just cannot believe the mythology. It is just not rational. I can respect someone CHOOSING to believe as an act of FAITH but not to expect rational people to accept their personal truth.
  • As a practical matter most of the ancillary social services that the curch provided in pre-industrial society: health care, education, a social organization for women trapped in the home are obsolete.

I can understand having a moral foundation for a war. Like a war against Hitler. I can understand moral people participating honorably in a war lacking that type of foundation. Like Iraq. But I cannot understand someone using religion to provide a justification for a war that has no basis. Even if you just wanted to enrich Exxon and Blackwater and Halliburton, couldn’t we have just cut them a check and saved hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives?

Yes, it is difficult to take seriously the “conservative” argument that the wealthiest nation in the world cannot afford to fix bridges or provide health care but does have a trillion or two to fight an unnecessary war against Iraq. Unnecessary from any rational point of view:

  • Iraq did not attack the US. Al Qaeda did and there was no connection to Iraq
  • Iraq was not a clear and present danger to the US. There were no WMDs.
  • Afghanistan DID represent a clear and present danger to the US. It’s government DID shelter Al Qaeda and others who did harm.

You don’t have to be a peacenik to think that Bush blew it by launching an unjustified war against Iraq while failing to aggressively prosecute a justified war against the Taliban and their Al Qaeda partners.

The most realistic cost estimates I have seen for the war so far, including direct costs, the cost of replacement for all the materiel consumed and the direct economic costs of so many reservists being deployed for so long is about $2 Trillion. Add another trillion dollars if you want to include the costs of servicing the debt, indirect opportunity costs etc.

Not really fiscally conservative, is it.

Worse is the negative impact on the US, the world, and the US position in the world. After 9/11 the United States had the support and goodwill of almost the entire world. There were street demonstrations in Iran in support of the US. China and Russia shared a threat from similar insurgents. The Arab world (if not the Arab street) felt somewhat shamed. Maybe policies like corrupt family oligarchies attentuated by support for insane religious extremism to distract the dispossessed masses did not seem like such a good idea anymore.

There was a clear opportunity to take this amity and lead in a direction towards tolerance and democratization and against terrorism and authoritarianism.

Instead Rummy and Cheney and their squad dusted off their 5 year old plans to attack Iraq.

The result is a decrease in the stature and economic fortunes of the US, over 4000 Americans dead, over 60,000 seriously wounded, trillions of dollars of debt, an exhausted military that is now not prepared to address new, real threats, a crumbling infrastructure at home, sinking dollar…

I can’t really think of any actions more “Un-American” than what the Bush Administration has wrought.

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