Why Believe in War
This post was written by MJ on 27th Mar, 2003
Situation normal, all fucked up
A generation ago, a deadly war was inspired by the folly of something called the domino theory. Is the idea behind of Operation Iraqi Freedom its sequel?
In the debates during the run-up to the invasion, the foundation of the hawks’ pragmatic arguments — Iraq must be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction [sic]; removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could spark a rebalancing of the Middle East — was the one, unshakeable, principled argument: The invasion of Iraq, like the invasion of Vichy France and Europe in 1944, was an invasion of liberation. It’s the trump argument.
It also had a military corollary: Since American and British forces would be seen as liberators, the hawks said, and as soon as the Iraqis realized that Mr Hussein and his murderous cronies were on the way out — the Eureka moment — they would rise up and expel his regime.
Well, that ‘aint happenin’. The alleged uprising in Basra, Iraq’s second city, has the smell of coalition propaganda or disinformation about it. There are increasing reports that after many years of sanctions and propaganda, the Iraqi people are not in the mood to look at 300,000+ soldiers and tons of allegedly precision munitions as welcome guests in their country.
Maybe the tide will turn; maybe there will be some sort of urban tipping point in Baghdad after all. Given the intentions on all sides, that seems to be the only thing that could prevent a horrible blood bath. But, as unlikely as it seemed before the star of the war, should ordinary Baghdadis all of a sudden stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Mr Hussein’s most brutal security forces — who, after all, can only look forward to death or persecution in a post-Hussein Iraq — well… that would probably make Black Hawk Down look like a John Wayne propaganda effort.
The “decapitation strike” didn’t work; “Shock and awe” didn’t work; “spontaneous uprisings” is so far a bust. How many more strategic miscalculations can we look forward to?
Finally, some good news: CNN has cancelled Connie Chung’s late-night show. The reason was not a lack of missing children to exploit but CNN’s desire to do more (allegedly) hard news on Iraq rather than tabloid-y type stuff, a net flack said. Her show debuted last June but never matched the ratings of Fox competitor/total wackjob Bill O’Reilly; Ms Chung was offered another on-air position in Atlanta but, luckily for us, she refused. (My defining Chung moment came last week on the first night of the war. CNN was showing a live shot of Baghdad, with the call-to-prayer echoing in the background. Chung said: “That’s the morning call to prayer. Isn’t it ominous?” Ah, the triumph of America, where even racial minorities can be bigots.)