Saturday, April 28, 2007

Other Questions About the War in Iraq

I am baffled not only about why the US invaded Iraq, but also about other things concerning that war:

Why did Tony Blair support it?
Unlike many people, I really like Tony Blair. He's my kind of politician: a pragmatic lefty - fiscally conservative, socially progressive, and someone who knows that the devil's in the details. He talked straight and he knew what he was talking about. He spoke from the heart and with conviction. Plus, he came into power and solved the Irish problem - after more than 100 years of strife and terrorism, he just fixed it. And he gave limited sovereignty to Scotland and Wales - not as much as your average province or state has, but better than hundreds of years of English rule has allowed.

Then he went and got all buddied up with Bush.2. At first I thought that this was a requirement of the US-UK "special arrangement" (or whatever they call it now) - the secret sharing of intelligence info and general quid pro quo between the two powers. But Blair seemed to be legitimately, even passionately, in support of the invasion. If he was coerced, he's the world's greatest actor.

Could it have been naivete and stupidity? That doesn't fit my image of Blair.

The big problem is how to reconcile Blair's war values with what his values seemed to be prior to the war. Was he lying before? Did he change? It just doesn't make any sense. There wasn't even any political expediency. He knew that his support for the war was so unpopular that he was wrecking his popularity and his legacy. And yet... he did it.

Did the Bushies ever really think they could win?
There has been a lot of criticism of Bush for not having an exit strategy. But an exit strategy is just another way of saying you have a vision for how to win and finish something. They didn't.

They didn't have one in Afghanistan either. They started out really well in Afghanistan: without a lot of bombing, CIA agents with bags of cash and some special forces troops managed to buy off warlords and topple the Taliban. It looked good on the news for a little while... until it became obvious that toppling the Taliban isn't the same as defeating the Taliban. Now we're all bogged down in Afghanistan like the Russians and many other invaders before them, and I don't know that anyone has had much success at that strategy.

They went into Iraq with half the troops that experienced war strategists said they needed, they blew up more infrastructure than they should have, and they dismantled all the Iraqi security forces. They never had a chance. They cared a lot - to the point of panic - that they didn't find any WMD to justify their invasion, but did they care that they were losing?

It's as if the Bush gang can't plan beyond the next headline. Like someone who gleefully takes your rook, not realizing that they've opened themselves up for checkmate. But they can't be that stupid. When it comes to outfoxing the Democrats in elections, they're 3 for 4. They have the most highly trained military in the world advising them. It just doesn't seem possible that they could have thought they'd win the war that they planned.

Is it possible that they didn't care whether they won or lost? If their goal was to create a Pax Americana - a new world order based on America being the sole superpower - then maybe winning seemed secondary, and the whole point was just to show the world they would use their military might unilaterally. But if that were true, it has backfired big time. Being defeated by an impoverished country of 30 million (pre-war population) is hardly the way to look tough.


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