The Reasons For the War (Part I)

For a while the ‘Bush lied about the War’ concept was frothing around, especially regarding ‘imminent threat’, possession of WMD, links to 9-11, and links to terrorism. After much debate, this seems to have been mostly replaced with the idea that Bush didn’t lie so much as he juxtaposed a number of disparate elements together to create an untrue impression.

He would talk about 9-11 and soon thereafter talk about Saddam Hussein. Since there is no smoking gun connecting Saddam to 9-11, those on the left charge Bush with deception in linking the two. But that is taking a very narrow view of what I’m going to call ‘The War’. The varicella zoster virus causes chicken pox and shingles. The pustules which we call chicken pox do not cause shingles. Shingles definitely doesn’t cause the pustules. But they are both symptoms of the same disease. To talk of them as linked is not misleading even though they typically have very different symptoms and typically show up at very different stages in a person’s life. In the same way, it is not misleading to talk about stateless Islamist Fundamentalist terrorists and psuedo-secular heads of authoritarian states as part of the same problem.

US Background in the Middle East
For decades American policy in the Middle East has been awful. Left leaning people can probably add dozens of other stupid decisions to this list, but I'll focus on a few. Carter dealt poorly with the hostages. Reagan made of fool of himself in Beruit and pursued mostly economic pressure against Lybia even though it was directly tied to an airline bombing. Bush I allowed Saddam to become a hero who could spit in the eye of the giant and survive. Clinton pretended that the 1993 WTC bombing was just a few isolated crazies, not following up on the deeper foreign ties. Neither Bush II nor Clinton made any big deal of the Cole bombing. Carter and Reagan at least had the excuse of the complications of the Cold War. The rest really didn't act like the problems in the Middle East were a big deal. The general impression was that America was a paper tiger. We had powerful weapons, but if you bloodied us a little we would retreat. The cornerstone of our policy was similar to that of our policy with the USSR--wait them out and let them destroy themselves. This twenty year history of ineffectual response led to a recent turning point in our Middle East relations: 9-11.

The 9-11 attacks destroyed two of our largest buildings and killed about 3,000 people. It should be remembered that the aim was to kill about 40,000 people. The terrorists just didn't succeed in destroying the buildings quickly enough. The Islamist Fundamentalist terrorists had done something that the Soviets had never done. They killed thousands of people in our own cities, and they aimed to kill tens of thousands more. 9-11 was a message. It was a message that civilians were not safe in America. It was a message that this war was going to be fought against us undeclared, and through false fronts. It was a message that the old rules did not apply. And contrary to rhetoric about giving Osama what he wants in a war between Islam and the West, all indications were that he foolishly believed we would let him sit behind his pet government in Afghanistan and continue to scheme.

Two symptoms of the failure of Arab culture
Just as chicken pox and shingles are both caused by the varicella zoster virus Islamist Fundametalism and Ba'athism are two reactions to an underlying disease in the Arab culture.

Islamist Fundamentalism is a militant pan-Islamic group which responds to the failures of the Arab world by insisting that the failures are punishments for not maintaining faith with Allah. It suggests that Western decadance distracts from the proper method of submission to Allah's will. It wants this distraction to cease either by destroying (converting?) the West, or by forcing the West to completely withdraw from the Middle East. Because of our history in the Middle East, Islamist Fundamentalists believe that if you bloody America, you will cause it to retreat. Hence, 9-11.

Ba'athism is a millitant pan-Arab group which responds to the failures of the Arab world by promoting authoritarian socialist rule. It is theoretically secular, though Saddam himself was willing to try to use Islamist Fundamentalist fervor to his advantage. This is seen in his post-Gulf War establisment of mosques, and the Koran which used his blood as ink. Ba'athism wants to be a force in the Middle East, but its leaders are aware that they cannot really rule the Middle East so long as the US is around to stop Ba'athists from cowing their neighbors. Because of our history in the Middle East, Ba'athists believed that if you bloddy America, you can cause it to withdraw.

US reactions
Before 9-11, most Americans were prepared to let the failed Arab cultures stew in their own juices. After 9-11, it became apparent that we needed to do something about the Arab world. We had to do it soon because if Al-Qaeda had nuclear weapons they would have used them.

We invaded Afghanistan, because they were harbouring the actual terrorist group which committed the atrocity of 9-11. After we invoked the NATO agreements, some European countries initially attempted to keep us from attacking Afghanistan. But the wound of 9-11 was still to fresh, and the connection between Afghanistan and the terrorists was to strong. So we went into Afghanistan, and severely crippled Al Qaeda and its ability to operate within a host country. If Al Qaeda was the main thing to attack in the War, then we were well on our way to a quick completion. If the poisonous Arab culture was the problem, we had only removed the very most dangerous and immediate threat.

Posted by Sebastian Holsclaw at November 11, 2003 12:27 AM