Distributed Mind

What Will We Do Next Time?

In late 2002 I did not know whether Iraq was actively developing non-conventional weapons; there were reasons to think both ways. But to me not knowing was not a reason to support the administration's approach for two reasons: (1) I didn't think a war was an appropriate way to deal with the situation, but, also, (2) I knew that the administration didn't care whether there were such weapons or not, and that was the real point. It was clear to me and many others that this war was going to happen, and if "WMD" couldn't be used to make a clear enough case, some other thing would be. Maybe those of us who said so were wrong, but that's how we felt.

I really feel this nation let itself be talked into a war. We (I mean now the nation as a whole) still really believe violence is the way to solve things. But it isn't. There may be times for military intervention (active genocide, say), but they don't look like and won't ever look like the time of the Iraq war. Even if Bush and company were at fault, so was the nation as a whole. We wanted this war! No, it wasn't our idea, but once it had been suggested, we were more willing to listen to our president than our consciences. Or maybe we just didn't know what war was like (though how could we not? was Vietnam really so long ago?). Even if we were lied to, the liars found a receptive audience. This isn't just Bush's problem. And it isn't even just the government's problem (remember many Democrats in Congress supported this war as well). It's our problem.

What's my point? War is not a panacea. And even when war is the best solution, it still hurts. Next time someone tries to talk you into a war, America, remember what happened this time. Remember the doubt three years later about whether the argument for going to war was a good one. Remember the pain of seeing thousands of American military members and perhaps tens of thousands of Iraqis killed and maimed. Don't... let... this... [being talked into a war we didn't want] happen... again.

(I am sorry if I offend any of my more interventionist friends. You know, I hope, how I feel about killing - even of animals - and my feelings on war come out of the same place. (I find it somewhat amusing that people find it so easy to accept my vegetarianism while I always feel they are implicitly condemning my much less radical - I feel - opposition to war.) I simply don't accept war on the same terms many of you are willing to do so. But I really don't think I have rejected it out of naivete. I urge you to carefully consider under what circumstances war would be acceptable and under what circumstances it would not. Put aside for a moment the ideologies you have come to accept from years of living in our partisan, polarized, and nationalistic political environment, and think about the fundamental moral implications of war. And then think about what you want your response to be the next time your president wants to convince you to go to war. And if you have any doubt about the reasons, I urge you to take that doubt into consideration.)

posted at 00:14:27 on 11/20/05 by ben - Category: Politics

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