Who can avoid talking about the war? My feeling on the war is now on record, I suppose (support, contingent on dedicated and sincere attempt to reconstruct Iraq; if it self-destructs it should be despite our efforts, not because of them), but I wanted to comment on a couple of criticisms that I feel are either disingenuous or invalid.
- "Bush (and by extension the administration) is stupid." - No. The administration may be wrong, corrupt, or a wide variety of other things, but it is not stupid.Note that we do not have access to a lot of information the administration does. Note also that it is almost never a good idea to completely tip your hand during war. The fact is that if all of its actions made sense to everybody that would probably be a very, very bad sign.Lest you think I'm violating my first paragraph and supporting Bush, I am not, because this cuts both ways. Accusations of stupidity absolve the administration of responsibility in a certain sense. The administration is going into this with eyes wide open, and with almost certainly millions of man-hours spent analysing the results to the n-th degree. Don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise to score a cheap shot.This goes for any non-pathological, non-degenerate government. I'd love to define that more precisely but a reasonable approximation is a government that consists of a reasonable number of people sharing power (not one person will full control) with a reasonable distribution of that power. Such governments are often many things but truly stupid is not usually one of them.
- "Bush is just gung-ho for war.", implied as the sole or majority reason for war - Related to the administration not being stupid, I can't imagine the economic doldrums have escaped the attention of the administration, nor the strong correlation between the economy and re-election chances, regardless of any other effects. Further, it is quite likely that doing nothing, especially after the basic clean-up in Afghanistan, would not have negative consequences until the next President is in power, so the easy thing for the administration to do would be to allow the UN to dick around for the next two years at its toothless leisure. The odds are inaction would bite the next guy, not them. Something other then mere "bloodlust" is driving the President in this direction, strong enough to overcome the patently obvious downsides to war for the administration itself.I submit that it is at least plausible that the motivation of the administration is quite likely to be almost exactly what they say it is; considered honestly, true idealism and the true belief these are necessary actions is the only motivation that makes sense, when simply doing nothing is so much easier and immensely more monetarily profitable for everybody. I even have to admit that I expected worse on the civil liberties front, but that the administration seems to be genuinely focused on their stated goals, not using this as an excuse to tighten the reigns at home. (Which isn't to say I approve fully or intend to be any less interested and diligent, but I do admit a certain surprise.)Again, nobody can say for certain that the actions they are taking will have the outcome they desire, nor am I commenting directly on the desirability of that outcome at this time. All I'm saying is attributing this to bloodlust or desire for glory, while certainly easy (downright intellectually lazy), is disingenuous.
There's room for a lot of opinions on these issues going each way; the world is now directly in the middle of a major transition to a new way of doing business that started in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the on-going development of powerful weapons technologies cheap enough for any country to acquire. Things probably won't finish shaking down until 2010 or so, roughly, and things won't look the way they did before. (Look for the concept of "sovereignity" to undergo a lot of changes, for instance, as the world keeps shrinking.) There's a lot of new ambiguity and uncertainty. If nothing else, if you oppose the Bush administration's views, you do nothing to convince others by attacking shallow characterizations of it. It's not stupidity, and it's not simple bloodlust.
Yes, personally I think we're largely doing the right thing. But even more important to me is a true and honest debate. Slinging facile and naive characterizations around only hurts everybody, most especially the accusors. Know thy enemy.