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Monday, March 25, 2013

A Personal Violation: The Iraq War

In The Economist:

The Iraq war 
Anniversary of a mass delusion 
Mar 18th 2013, 16:41 by M.S.

...[It] obviously, was all a fever dream. There were no biological or nuclear weapons; there may have been a few rusty chemical shells lying around, just as there had been for decades. Iraq was not an important sponsor of Islamicist terrorism... [which] was fueled not by fascist dictatorships such as Iraq, but by non-state actors in failed states such as Afghanistan and Somalia; and our invasion of Iraq promptly turned it into precisely the sort of failed-state sectarian war zone that does fuel terrorism. Thousands of American soldiers died in a war in Iraq that only exacerbated the danger of anti-American terrorism... In the name of pre-empting a non-existent threat, America killed tens of thousands of people and turned Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorism. And we spent a trillion dollars to do it.

How did America's policymaking community ever commit itself to such a catastrophic delusion? I don't truly understand it now, and I didn't understand it then. I found the developing consensus for an unprovoked attack on Iraq in late 2002 absurd. But I had an advantage: I wasn't living in America at the time...

...Large numbers of otherwise intelligent people had ended up supporting the war...
the malign influence of intellectual conformity, the fear of being branded anti-patriotic or a foolish apologist for dictators, the nervous self-hatred of an intellectual class cowed into submission by an anti-intellectual president's popularity also all played a role. I remember spending a week in the offices of the New York Times's Outlook section...,  the anxiety to self-police against anything that could be perceived as liberal bias was palpable. Smart, serious people convinced themselves to accept the most spurious claims.

I remember it so well, and shall never forget it: the compulsion to get-in-line was like a serious violation of one's mind and body; it was an unrestrained and dirty process which can only find metaphors in the most prurient and debased types of sadistic pornography.


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