Friday, April 29, 2005

Ends and Means

Over at ArmchairGeneralist I just posted a long rant in the comments of a post llooking at Charles Duelfer's Final report, which basically made official what everyone should know by now- Iraq posed little threat to the U.S. and had no WMD. My rant was in response to Bobby Bran, who's blog is one of my daily reads, on why the ends don't justify the means when it comes to Bush's lies surrounding the leadup to and the prosecution of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Here's my rant, spelling errors and all:
your comments are so full of errors of judgement that it's hard to know where to start responding. Let's start with the most obvious logical fallicy:

"a policy error connotes a "mistake" and I think it is far too early to determine that the War in Iraq was a mistake, error, or failure. It may very well turn out to be a mistake... But then again it could also turn out to be the most successful maneuver of the 21st century."

The first problem here is that we cannot know what course history would have taken if we had not acted. You don't know if Saddam would have lasted another year or another 20 years. This has to be the most common, and frustrating, error of rationality that I hear coming from the G. W. apologists, and though the masses may be put to sleep by such heavenly rhetoric, those who actually use their brains will reject this as so much sophistry.

The second error you are making is assuming that even if deposing Saddam was the right thing to do, that the way that we did it, i.e. massive invasion and a bungled occupation, was the only way to do it. This is what I would call the dumb jock mentality- i.e. all brawn, no brains. We are, by far, the most powerful nation in the history in the world. But that strength is not limited to our military prowess. We have technological, economic, and communications powers at our disposal that could equally be brought to bear on an adversary- if we would use our mind instead of (or at least in conjunction with) our nuts.

On a more pragmatic level, your assumptions are way off as well. You obviously volunteered to join the armed services, as did every other man and woman who is in Iraq serving, and our national security depends upon men like yourself who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their nation. So, when the leader of the nation obviously lies to push our nation into a war of CHOICE, against a nation that had not attacked us, nor did they have the capabilities to attack us, then we have a serious problem. Because, there may be a good number of men and women out there who will sign up and fight for whatever purpose the government sees fit. And then there are those of us who would rather send Bush and his energy/defense industry pimps up shits creek before I roasted in the hot desert sun to line the pockets of a few wealthy men.

Even if there were a draft the lies would be devastating to the war effort. It's funny how quickly we forget history, but I'm sure that you know that most people supported Vietnam when it started. I'm sure that you also know that we never, ever, lost a single battle against the N. Vietnamese. So how did we lose the war? We lost the support of the American people, and that support is vital if you are going to expend the time, blood, and energy to defeat a determined foe, especially one resorting to "irregular" combat. This would be the prime example of why the dumb-jock mentality is harmful for security- if we lose sight of what the actual war is about, or what victory truly is, then we will lose the war.

And as far as the BS argument that Saddam would have attacked us if he could (not yours but the argument made by many Bush apologists)- who cares? Not that everyone is out to get us, but with so much of the world's wealth in our hands, and so many aggressive men out there willing to do whatever it takes to snatch that wealth from us, you have to suspect that there are many, many people out there who would attack us if they could. And if they don't want to attack us to take what we have, there are those who want to attack us just to see the big guy fall, or those who hold grudges because we took the resources from their nation (or had a surrogate/regional ally do so for us), and so on. And so if we start attacking all those people who "want" to do us harm, rather than those who actually pose a direct threat to us, then we are weakening ourselves, and thus strengthening our real potential adversaries (Good morning China).

Last- what the hell does Iraq have to do with Isalamic Extremism? I'll save you the trouble- NOTHING. So what does it have to do with Islamic extremism today? Everything. We've managed, in two long years, to turn a nation that was a pain in our ass, into a center of activity against us, and a hotbed of terrorism. We have succeeded in alienating the moderate muslims of the area who would like nothing more than to help us, we have turned Bin Ladin's idiodic ramblings into "prophesies" (i.e. that the US had designs on conquering the M.E.), and all for the low cost of thousands of Americans dead, many more injured, tens-of thousands of dead iraqis, a nation that has fallen into near-compelte anarchy (i.e. a failed state- supposedly the exact thing that fosters islamic extremism), hundreds of billions of dollars, and our standing in the eyes of the world.

Oh, but Saddam is gone. Let me go take the Champaign off the ice, cause world peace must be right around the corner.

On another note, I really got to get the hell outta NYC before 9-12 hits, you know the sequel to that event that I watched from my roof (which most people watched on the boob-tube, and which was used to beat myself and all the other NY liberals over the head with ever since). Because while Bush is off galivanting through Babylon, there are real bad people (unlike the Phantom Menaces that the NeoCon-artists see through their tinted galsses), whom we probablly don't know, who are planning to attack us again.

And let's all pray that nobody else gets fresh with us, cause it's really hard to fight a war without any soldiers...

All rants aside though, it's not hard to see that not only is "the ends justify the means" an immoral way to govern, it's also harmful to our military readiness. As Vietnam should have taught our leaders- we cannot win a war without public support, even if we have far superior force to bring to bear on our enemy. And while it may be alright for the Bush Administration to change its rationale for war whenever it pleases, we cannot expect the American people to fall in lockstep in their march through cognitive dissonance. And so, as we should expect in this situation, support for the war has been steadily falling.

Ah, but there's a big difference between now and Vietnam- there was a draft during Vietnam. But shouldn't the fact that we have an all volunteer army make it less likely that we will fail due to a lack of will? Maybe, but definitely not if you can't find soldiers to sign up to fight.

And what do you know- people don't want to sign up to be sent to fight in a war of choice against a nation that did not attack us. Besides the recruitment failures that I have noted here on the site, the Washington Post reported this week that enrollment in Army ROTC was down in the past 2 school years.

Maybe those college kids are too smart for their own good, or maybe the Bush Administration is just way too stupid for the good of our nation. You be the judge.