Why this war is so hated : Part II
In Part I I tried to advance some arguments as to why the Iraq war is so hated. Here are a few more. Neither that post nor this one is meant to be exhaustive.
One of the main justifications for the war was that Iraq had violated the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire and the UN inspections. But the war was also widely--and rightly--seen as an attempt to begin to change the face of the Middle East. For that reason, the fear exists that this war will just be the first in a long series of wars in the region, a sort of "where will it all end?" apprehension. This apprehension is also, I believe, behind some of the otherwise almost incomprehensible defense of Iran's leadership by segments of the antiwar contingent.
To many liberals and those on the left who never accepted that Saddam's violations of the ceasefire and inspections were a large part of what led to the US decision to go to war ("it's all for oil, it's racism, it's imperialism"), the decision to go to war with Iraq seemed purely arbitrary. Therefore the fear was that nothing would stop this administration from attacking country after country in that region.
Perhaps that's even part of what's behind the seemingly inexplicable need of some on the left to have the whole enterprise fail. Think about it: if it succeeds, then what's to stop those evil crazed neocons from doing it again and again in the region? Because of course, we all know that neocons have no sense of nuance, no knowledge of the differences between countries, nor of why a possible solution for one is not necessarily the right approach to another.
Another aspect of this war that is hard to accept--not just the Iraq war, but the larger "war on terrorism" or "war on Islamic jihadism" or whatever term one wishes to use for it--is that it does most definitely have religious overtones, although those religious overtones are actually those of the enemy. Our own religious battles in the West are for the most part of the "cold" variety, although our history is one of lengthy "hot" wars of a religious nature. But to a great degree we've put all of that behind us.
Now it rears its ugly head in a way that seems positively medieval. But the fact is that we are fighting an enemy with a medieval/religious mindset and access to modern weapons, and one who is trying to gain access to the most modern of weapons--nuclear ones--even as we speak. It's a lethal combination, and very hard to believe and accept, especially if one is accustomed to thinking in PC terms. And, strangely enough, when all this became clearer on 9/11, we happened to have had a President in office who takes his own religion, Christianity, usually seriously, and is unashamed to state that fact.
This whole business of a war that is at least partly religious in nature (if only because the enemy wills it to be so) is assuredly not what most of us expected for the beginning of the 21st century. I remember, when I first started reading blogs, coming across the site of an Australian blogger (now defunct; wish I could remember his name!) who wrote a funny piece on that very subject. The gist of it was that the whole thing can be explained by a mixup in time: the numbers of the years got reversed, and instead of it being 2001 it was actually the year 1200.
Sometimes it feels that way; the sense of dislocation can be profound. Hard to accept the fact of an enemy with a medieval mindset wedded with modern technology. Much better, and far more reassuring, to think that those who are aware of the threat and who want to do something different about it are nuts. Because who would want to recognize that we're in a long struggle against an unusually implacable and rage-filled enemy?