Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How We Got Into This Mess.

The temptation to comment on World and National affairs is usually avoided here, as many other blogs are far more profound in their discussion of such issues. But the President's speech last night has made comment about the Iraq war, at the very least, created a need for a venting chamber before we all explode here at The Bar.

History, provided that it has a command on observable fact unlike the news media, will likely depict the Iraq War as a high-minded experiment that was always doomed by the insularity of its makers. Back in the giddy 90's an outfit called the Project for the New American Century had a grand idea - establish what is essentially a powerful American protectorate in the Middle East to keep MidEastern countries in line, ensure a dependable flow of crude, keep China from expanding its sphere of influence into South Asia, and give American business a century's worth of new contracts. It's easy to paint the architects of the war as amoral corporate plunderers but these folks most likely have convinced themselves that their actions will benefit mankind and offer economic prosperity as a byproduct. Like most great ideas, however, the plan to invade Iraq would ultimately wither under scrutiny (before its implementation), especially under that of the American public, which, inconveniently, elect the leaders who have command of the country's military. It's probably clear where I'm going with this and the baiting-and-switching of the American public will be relegated to an evil action committed by evil people. But just like how calling the terrorists "evil" is stupid and inneffective in understanding and thus, dealing with the terrorist threat, so is affixing the evil label to Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the PNAC crew. No, their actions in their eyes are morally defensible when undergirded by the right philosophy, in this case, the philosophy of Leo Strauss. The Straussian justification goes like this: most human beings, of which the American public is made up of, are weak. Too weak, in fact, to weigh the pros and cons of truly important matters like war. Therefore, their intellectual superiors must take it upon themselves to be the stewards of big-deal decision-making. If such decisions were left to Joe Citizen, he would most likely be blind to the nation's best interest and protect his own personal interest. That is why, before the war, Wolfowitz cited the WMD justification as the reason "we all could agree on." How could Joe Citizen oppose the war if his own survival was at stake?

In case you didn't notice, we just took a pretty funky route to arrive at our conclusion that the Iraq war is a good thing. Had our leaders had the benefit of peer review, we would have discovered that the insurgency would have the vigor to take out 1700 troops and counting, that oil revenues would not cover the costs of war, and that invading a sovereign MidEastern country and killing its innocent citizens would inflame Muslim public opinion and put the terrorist-making machine in overdrive. And, as a result, those of us who didn't get to make the decision to go to war will pay dearly.