Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I came, I saw, Iraq

After watching Bush’s speech, I came to one conclusion: If you really think hard about the reasons we are in Iraq, as outlined by our president, your brain will explode.

-There’s the 9/11 reason. But no direct connection between al Qaeda and Saddam.

-There’s the WMD reason. But no WMD.

-There’s the Saddam-killed-and-tortured-people argument. No comment.

-There’s the Saddam-might-have-gotten-WMD-at-some-point-in-the-future argument. Maybe, but weapons of mass destruction program-related activities do not a strategic threat make.

-There’s the “flypaper” argument. This has some intuitive appeal. It is possible if would-be terrorists view Iraq as the place to be, then the United States itself is less likely to be targeted. But this is virtually impossible to analyze or evaluate. And if our national security strategy is to create more insurgencies and terrorist havens, we’re in deeper trouble than I thought.

-There’s the democracy argument. This also has intuitive and some logical appeal, and is in fact the best reason to stay with the Iraq project right now. But logically speaking, we arrive at the democracy argument only after having discarded all the above arguments and knowing that democracy was way down Bush’s original checklist of strategic reasons for the war, and that we will not be birthing more democracies in this manner.

Iraq is a rabbit hole for all debate. There is no way to have a reasonable discussion about it because there are no reasons. Even now, we really don’t know why we went into Iraq. Sure, the idea was floating around out there in neoconland, but the impulse to pull the trigger seems mainly to have sprung direct from the Bushian id. This is one reason why Democrats wanting to debate facts and make rational arguments – about training or troop levels or whatever – have been so easily mau-maued these past few years. Iraq is about instinct, not facts or strategy. Of course, a policy based on instinct alone is no policy at all.