'A Shame, Not a Cause'
KikoKimba notes that he reluctantly supported the war at the outset because he bought into the canard that Saddam had WMDs, while anticipating that a drawn out post-war occupation would be disastrous. He takes no pride in having been right.
What is surprising at first glance is that the war in Iraq seems to have changed the United States so little. But when you dive beneath the surface, several reasons emerge:
Numb and Number
We have become increasingly numb over and detached from the seemingly endless stream of bad news that courses through the body politic like so much effluent through a sewer.
For many Americans, the war is background noise that only occasionally and inconveniently intrudes as they shop at the mall and catch a glimpse of a bloody street scene from Baghdad on the TVs in the window of an electronics store.
Furthermore, the war is being fought by a demographically insignificant slice of the U.S. population (all are volunteer soldiers, many from lower middle class and poor families) and on a scale that is dwarfed by the draft-heavy Vietnam War and wars before it.
Quick: How many people do you know who have loved ones in Iraq? I thought so.
The MSM Goes AWOL
The mainstream media, cowed by the mighty Bush administration spin machine in the run-up to and in the early years of the war, was slow to realize that it had been diddled and make adjustments in its coverage.
Although it has finally found its voice, the MSM is disseminating war news and commentary to a smaller audience diminished by defections to the non-MSM Internet and blogosphere, as well as people turned off by what they perceive as a built-in antiwar bias.
A Shame, Not a Cause
Most importantly and to its everlasting shame, the White House has run the war like a political campaign, not a national cause.
It has been difficult to differentiate between President Bush’s efforts to fight the War on Terror and his efforts to keep the right-wing Republican grip on power. The two are incompatible, of course, and it was inevitable that they would collide.
That collision has been especially ugly because of the lies and deceptions. Throw in the vile Rovian tactic of paying lip service to the notion of freedom to dissent while branding even the most patriotic dissenters as traitors, add an ample dose of Democratic Party dithering and cowardice, an antiwar movement that shouted itself out early on and the aforementioned grassroots ennui, and you have a recipe for a big fat public turnoff.
A tragic consequence of the collision is that while the White House no longer deserves our support, our troops do – and that support has been lukewarm, at best.
We can welcome the probability that the Bush Doctrine and right-wing stranglehold on Washington will come to an end when the frat boy puts away his smirk, tucks in his tail and goes home to Texas. We also can take some small satisfaction that George Bush has squandered his post-9/11 mandate because of his own egregious leadership failures, not because we didn’t want to believe him, and that history will judge harshly his conduct. But his swan song won’t be until nearly three years from now, and the capacity for further mischief is huge, not to mention the homeland being left vulnerable to another terrorist attack that the war in Iraq will have done nothing to prevent.
Besides which, feeling self satisfied over the multiple disasters of the Bush Era will not have saved 2,500 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis – with God knows how many more deaths to come – in an unnecessary war that has been fought while the folks on the homefront shopped at the mall.
And for that we all, and not just George Bush, bear responsibility.