Food For Thought

December 11th, 2007at 08:54pm Posted by Eli

Chris Bowers has an intriguing post up at OpenLeft, suggesting that opposition to the war is based more on the flawed and shifting rationales for invasion, than on the actual body count itself:

I think that too many of our anti-war arguments center on the third grouping of anti-war arguments, which state that the cost of the war in terms of lives, money, our standing in the world, and state of our armed forces has not been worth it. This leads to the counter-argument from Republicans and liberal hawks that because violence in Iraq is decreasing, that means the war is now becoming worth it. However, this argument over whether or not the costs of the war are worth it’s accomplishments is simply not were most Americans are at. The vast majority of the Americans either think that the war simply isn’t justified no matter the costs, or they think it is an integral part of fighting terrorism, no matter the costs. As such, for most people on both sides, it isn’t about the costs of the war, but rather about the rationale for the war. Americans believe in the fundamental decency of our country, and as such we don’t want our country to be in a war that can’t be justified, even if we are winning that war.

Personally, I think that after the weapons of mass destruction arguments collapsed, after people realized that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and after people realized we were fighting an insurgency against Iraqis themselves, the majority of the country simply no longer saw the war as justifiable on moral and / or legal grounds. In contrast to our three favorite wars as a nation, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War Two, it becomes increasingly difficult to portray Americans as the good guys in that situation, Think about how, as a nation, in contrast to those three conflicts, there is comparatively little positive cultural remembrance of, say, the war of 1812, the Mexican-American war, the war with Spain, World War One, and the Vietnam war. I think one of the key reasons for that is because, in those five conflicts, it is much more difficult to portray our participation in those conflicts as morally justifiable. The majority of our population is not hellbent on Empire for its own sake. If we use our military, Americans need to believe that what we are doing is just.

It isn’t just about the violence, or the other costs of the war. The reason Americans are done with Iraq if because they no longer believe the war is justified or justifiable. It is important for progressives and Democrats to remember that.

It’s all about self-image. We need to see ourselves as either just or tough, or both. Personally, I believe the invasion of Iraq shows us to be neither.

Also: Chris Bowers sure does write some bigass paragraphs.

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Polls,War

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