Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)


As I think about this war and others the U.S. has contemplated or entered during my conscious life, I realize how strong is the recurrent pattern of threat inflation. Exactly once in the post-WW II era has the real threat been more ominous than officially portrayed. That was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the world really came within moments of nuclear destruction. Otherwise: the "missile gap." The Gulf of Tonkin. The overall scale of the Soviet menace. Iraq. In each case, the public soberly received official warnings about the imminent threat. In cold retrospect, those warnings were wrong -- or contrived, or overblown, or misperceived. Official claims about the evils of these systems were many times justified. Claims about imminent threats were most of the times hyped.

—James Fallows, 2013

I am not a radical. But more than anything the Iraq War taught me the folly of mocking radicalism. It seemed, back then, that every "sensible" and "serious" person you knew -- left or right -- was for the war. And they were all wrong. Never forget that they were all wrong. And never forget that the radicals with their drum circles and their wild hair were right. Watching reasonable people assemble sober arguments for a disaster was, to put it mildly, searing.

—Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2013

As someone who was involved in day-to-day antiwar activism at the time, the visceral hatred of those opposing the war, and particularly the activists, was impossible to miss. It wasn't opposition. It wasn't disagreement. It was pure, irrational hatred, frequently devolving into accusations of antiwar activists being effectively part of the enemy.... A huge amount of the arguments in favor of the war were essentially genetic: look at the people opposing the war, dirty fucking hippies! How could you stand with them?

—Freddie deBoer, 2013

I was an integral part of the problem. I drank deeply of the neocon Kool-Aid. I was also, clearly countering the trauma of 9/11 by embracing a policy that somewhere in my psyche seemed the only appropriate response to the magnitude of the offense. Prudence, skepticism left me. I’d backed Bush in 2000. I knew Rummy as a friend. And my critical faculties were swamped by fear. These are not excuses. These are simply part of my attempt to understand how wrong I was – and why.

—Andrew Sullivan, 2013

What all of us [who opposed the Iraq war] had in common is probably a simple recognition: War is a big deal. It isn’t normal. It’s not something to take up casually. Any war you can describe as “a war of choice” is a crime. War feeds on and feeds the negative passions. It is to be shunned where possible and regretted when not. Various hawks occasionally protested that “of course” they didn’t enjoy war, but they were almost always lying. Anyone who saw invading foreign lands and ruling other countries by force as extraordinary was forearmed against the lies and delusions of the time.

—Jim Henley, March 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

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