Rage against the machine

20 03 2013

*Update* Check out Conor Friedersdorf’s review of anti-anti-war commentary.

I don’t even remember why I was against the war.

It’s easy, now, after the lies and mess and blood and money and vengeance and torture and horror and exodus, to say What a monstrous disaster.

Did I see all of this coming? I don’t know. I was skeptical, fearful of the what-ifs, but did I foresee the monster we would become, the disaster we would inflict on ourselves and the people of Iraq?

I doubt it. I doubt it.

I don’t feel vindicated for having been right. I didn’t have to argue myself into skepticism, didn’t have to fight my way past the shiny objects dangled in front of the American people in order to arrive at the summit of wisdom.

There was no summit, and I claim no wisdom. Is it really that hard to be skeptical of unnecessary war?

This is why I rage and despair in equal measure at those pundits who say “I was wrong, but I could have been right, so. . . .” They couldn’t be bothered to perform the most basic act of citizenship: to think, to think beyond one’s desires and sorrows and glee—and you betcher ass there was glee at the prospect of war—about what we were, truly about to do. Could they not be bothered to wonder at their own anticipation?

I am ungenerous in my interpretation of the commentators who supported the war, ungenerous in my reception to their ex post facto “soul-searching”; I read their apologies as justifications.

This is unfair (at least to John Cole), but I don’t care. They lost nothing by being wrong, suffered no consequences for whooping it up as the Congress and the Bush administration led us into destruction. They are sorry only that the destruction was inglorious, rather than shockingly awesome.

Again, this is unfair, I know, I know.

And it puts too much on the sideliners, not enough on the Congress and the Bush administration. I vent my rage at the pundits because I despair of influencing the politicians.

Once a president decides to go to war, that’s it, we’re going to war.

Pundits make the pitch easier; protesters are, if not ignored, a useful foil. But, truly, nothing any of us says, matters. We don’t matter, except, perhaps, to ourselves.

If a president wants war, war is what we get.

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6 responses

21 03 2013
21 03 2013
21 03 2013
dmfant

I think that questions along these lines often show the limits of our knowing and by extension our capacities/facilities as citizens. What sort of knowledge/expertise would give one a reason-able understanding of the unfolding dynamics in a situation like Iraq under Saddam and who if anyone has such knowledge? The certainty displayed by bloggers/commenters on all sides is pretty dismaying tho quite in keeping with recent research on our cognitive-biases, as attractive as Caputo’s hermeneutics of not-knowing may be to those of us mutants drawn to adding to the uncertainty vs thriving/feeding on certainty we are way out on the fringes of public discourse and so out of the feedback loops of public power.

22 03 2013
absurdbeats

No, there isn’t much we can do, not really, Cultivate a civic skepticism over the long term, perhaps, but as an antidote to an immediate bloodthirsty certainty? No, it’s not enough.

10 04 2013
geekhiker

What will be interesting to see, I think, is how the events of the past dozen or so years play themselves out with the voting politics in this country twenty or thirty years from now…

13 06 2014
Wanna get it right this time | AbsurdBeats

[…] I would have thrown a whisky bottle thru the screen had I witnessed even one of the incompetent bastards who pom-pommed us in the clusterfuck otherwise known as Operation Iraqi Freedom opine on the […]

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