Waves of Change
How the war and issues of the Iraqi invasion changes the way that Americans think.
Since 911 America has been changing more than just our views about terrorism. This is more than an essay about some of the fundamental reasons why our American invasion of Iraq was the wrong thing to do and why. This is also a serious critique of the underlying social, moral, and political issues we face and/or can soon expect to unfold during the coming elections. You may not like what you read here. But you don't have to believe any particular part of what is being considered within this essay to understand that the waves arising from these issues are beginning to mount.
By Roy D. Follendore III
Copyright (c) 2003 by RDFollendoreIII
May 14, 2003
OK. We have won. Or have we? Certainly as long as the Iraqi people are not in charge of the affairs of their own destiny, we have not. As long as armed invading troops in American uniforms are in their land they are not free, and we remain invaders. As long as the citizens of Iraq are not able to compete and challenge the opportunities of the world, including American and British interests, they are not not free to speak and act. Simply put, freedom has a lot more to do with the ability to do and say things that others don't always exactly approve of, than just declaring that a people are free.
In the eyes of the rest of the World, America has unilaterally decided that we have the authority in order to invade and change the government of a country that we do not approve. We have set the bar that allows both we and other counties to invade and change regimes. Though our example, all that we or anyone needs is the advantage of technology backing the military force of arms to implement desires and call it an act of freedom. What has been communicated is this imperial American concept of freedom. This is the lasting legacy of our invasion of Iraq. It is the price of expanding the boundaries of international law. But this is only one reason why the Iraqi invasion has become a problem. Because of the international Bush policy, the very concept of democracy is seen as less significant than the technological might that is used to expand democracy.
Our powerful invasion of Iraq was fundamentally different because the premise of the leadership in deciding to invade was internationally considered improper. Our unilateral invasion was also a message; as though our nation chose to deliberately undermine international law by unilaterally invading an independent and sovereign country. Beneath the surface, winning wars the way that we won this one somehow makes might right. United Nations responsibilities for the initiation and conduct of a lawful invasion has been bypassed and made moot. That the world leaders participating through the United Nations should have made the decision to invade, and not the President. The United States has been denied as a legitimate process of world democracy. By taking international law into our own hands, the United States Government has prevented the United Nations from the potential of being successful.
The war in Iraq began because the leaders of the invasion fed off of the pent up rage of 911. It was an invasion fought for reasons of religion, for naive international perspectives, and because of our edacious ego. America supported this invasion through the eyes of a carefully controlled media. This was a media who refused to risk their careers and their news organizations future opportunities. It was a media that could not report from the battlefield if they did not tow the line. Just as the Patriot Act has invaded American privacy rights, the policies of using "embedded reporters" has colored America's reality of war.
In the eyes of many, this was a war that bypassed moral debates. There were no real national debates, no true opposition to the invasion, and no opposition to the Republican party. For individual Americans, having the courage to say things that are unpopular about this war has meant the potential loss of friends and associates, the potential loss of work and the loss of economic opportunities of business investments. The negative side of what we have been doing in this war with Iraq has been glossed over and for the most part ignored. This was not a war based on unconditional love for humanity. We may say that we have gone into this war for the "Iraqi people" even as we have slaughtered many of them. We say that we are providing the freedom, even as we deny them the right to form the kind of government that they choose.
There are many Americans who feel that this war was different because while our President may call our decisions honorable and just, it really does not matter how precisely a 2000 pound smart bomb is dropped into a densely populated city. "Accidents" from such bombs simply wipe out a city block. Intelligent bombs and cluster bombs are the very weapons of mass destruction and terror that we say we are so much against. Our weapons are not and will never be the clean surgical solutions that the military dominated media would have us to believe. All such weapons will always harm the innocent. The truth that we are avoiding through our battlefield success and support for our troops is that Washington invaded Iraq for Republican political and economic motives, not virtuous humanitarian motives. We will find that a hidden but significant percentage of both Republicans and Democrats feel that this war is a black spot on the American political horizon.
On that horizon, our Iraqi invasion is heralded as the current Republicans idea of conservatism. They claim that our massive invasion was a conservative thing to do because through invasion they are eliminating weapons of mass destruction from a dictatorial regime. They have said that our invasion of Iraq has somehow made Americans safer.
This then is the ultimate question that every voter eventually must ask themselves. The actual risk to our economy must be balanced against the perceived risk that Iraq presented. The immediate risk of now having hundreds of thousands of combat troops acting as police, in a region where armed native people resent us will be considered. Is it true than there are no further terrorist attacks taking place against American interests? The answer is no. Americans are still being attacked. Does America have world backing? The current Republican administration has been careful to say that America pulled this invasion off within an international coalition. Is this true? Only if you count two as an "international coalition." It is awful difficult to see a conservative plan here.
Even if we were to assume that there were enormous quantities of weapons in Iraq, was there an imminent threat from Iraq at the time we invaded? The answer is no. The aftermath of administrative fears that such weapons will not be found can be clearly heard by all now in office. Statements from our government like "we have no doubt we will find weapons of mass destruction" imply that we will manufacture them if they are not there. The problem that they face is that without the UN weapons inspectors, nothing they may now find will be believed. This problem stems from the fact that we did do this thing unilaterally. The farce of Bush overseas diplomacy is illustrated by the fact that the rest of the World now in fact does and always has counted. The problem that we Americans now face is that we must now be willing to stand up and come clean on our actual reasons why we invaded Iraq if we are to be believed in the court of world opinion.
In driving this war forward there has been an occasional peek at the cracks beginning to grow below our American citizens blindfold. It is not only the war itself, but also the specific way that we came to this conflict as well as how we are conducting the war that is of critical concern to our nation. Make no mistake, people from our military are and will come home and be critical of the conduct of this war. When Americans get tired and need a break, the marvelous opinion polls founded upon the continuous crisis sponsored by this Bush administration will change.
When each of us consider the nature of this President's interaction we begin to realize that there things that were very wrong that has taken place here. We can see it in the interactions with his public. On one hand the White House obviously felt it is necessary to reply to critics, but on the other, in doing so it also feels it must thumb the Presidential nose at all criticism. What we see is as disconnected as a bad sitcom. We hear the rhetoric and the applause, but we do not get a sense of meaningful content or reasonable feedback. "The president has faith in the plan, has set the plan, the plan is working and that's the president's approach," he told reporters. "Undoubtedly you're going to have others who chime in, but that doesn't change how the president approaches it." We do not have a leader who is listening to the wisdom of all of the people.
This administration was never the great economic savior that some thought it would be after 911. It has been reactive and fearful in it's response. There has been no leadership of consequence. America has been in a recession, and the Federal Government was afraid to use the word. The American people by the millions are out of jobs. But those of us who are out of work understand that this is a recession. Through his actions, the leaders of this administration has been driving our country's citizens straight into bankruptcy. The principles of economics can not support this kind of relentless unbounded war. It is like trying to solve state economic woes with lotteries. It is a phony quick fix. Money is moved but nothing tangible is produced.
But there are many ways to go bankrupt and only one involves money. The old Republican "moral majority" in America seems to have gone morally bankrupt. In doing so, it took with it our basic rights. On many levels, the citizens economic power has been bypassed and the democratic vote has been delivered directly into our Government as discretionary power. This war in Iraq was about delegating unlimited discretionary executive power by our Congress. It was about the power of the American military to grab control of oil fields for exactly the same reasons why the opening of the Alaskan wilderness oil fields was part of George W. Bush's platform.
When the dust of Iraqi begins to settle, as America continues to pat itself on the back and of course continues to crown itself "the winner," the real story will once again be focused on the performance of this President. The issues in the elections are beginning to speak. His Texas style of "leadership by crisis" will eventually catch up with this man we now call our President, and he will be discussed for what he is. If we are lucky he will be thrown out of the office throne by the majority of American voters. It will then be left up to the next sitting American President to clean up this huge "God Awful" international mess that George W. Bush and his administration has created for us all. Let us hope that the awful Democratic Party can get themselves together and put together a winning candidate with a winning platform.
They must remember that there are many reasons why the invasion of Iraq could be considered by some to be a good thing. Some think of it as a quick success. But the idea of having a few good outcomes and doing the right thing are often two very different things. One may unilaterally choose to rob a federal bank and distribute the wealth to the poor. Such an action might immediately benefit a large number of needy and starving people. It could even save the lives of many people. But it also would not be the right thing to do. The fact is that institutions and societies are created because societies need to work through them to achieve social goals. There are shortcut alternatives like military invasions, but they are not real solutions to societal problems, and most of the positive byproducts do not last. Institutions of society are the long term means of creating opportunities and maintaining change. Our American leadership choose to take a short cut, and they are telling us that by doing so we are being successful as a society, but they are wrong.
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