Friday, June 01, 2007

Why Do We Stay In Iraq?

Atrios lets loose a good rant over at Eschaton:

The answer is unknowable because there isn't one. There are a variety of powerful actors who have different motives. It's as true, if not more true, for the continued occupation as it was for the initial invasion.

George Bush started the war because Saddam tried to killed his Dad and because he wanted to prance around on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit. He later got stubborn about the whole thing when those mean Democrats started criticizing him, and he began to buy into the transformational rhetoric due to his increasing messianic bent. And, now, it's about his "legacy."

Dick Cheney started the war because of his insatiable lust for the black stuff. Dick Cheney keeps us in Iraq because of his insatiable lust for the black stuff.

Don Rumsfeld went to war to prove that he could achieve any military result with 3 marines, an armed aerial drone, and his left pinky. He stayed in Iraq because George Bush told him to and because he still needed to prove his awesomeness.

And the money shot:

Democrats went to war because they were scared of losing their elections. They stay there because they're scared of losing elections.

Click here for the rest.

And do check it out. I've excerpted about a third of his post and he hits other war contributers with at least as much poignancy. It's also worth checking out the Josh Marshall post that inspired Atrios' rant. Here's a bit:

This is about the US controlling the region itself, having troops on the ground and structures in place so that none of the nominal governments in the region can act on their own without US assent. That's a whole different question than which companies have the right to pump the stuff out of the ground.

More here.

It's extraordinarily interesting to hear someone as mainstream as Marshall sounding like he's coming around to the Noam Chomsky point of view that the whole Iraq debacle has been about controlling the oil for the purpose of creating mass economic leverage favoring the US, rather than owning it to make gas cheap or the oil companies richer. But Atrios makes an extremely good point: why does there continue to be so much support for such an obviously failed venture by so many people who clearly don't, rhetorically anyway, buy into the control-the-spigot strategy? As Atrios observes, most of these people appear to have their own self-serving reasons, but I'll go a step further and suggest that, while there may not be a single concrete motivation here, there is an overall unifying theme uniting these motivations.

The elite establishment, which includes the fantastically wealthy, the government, paid "intellectuals," corporations, and the mainstream press, all believe that America, whatever that may mean to them, is the greatest thing in the universe, and that war is a glorious and preferable method for manifesting that greatness. All these people usually express the obligatory "war is hell" or "we're the last ones to want war" bullshit, but none of them mean it. They want war. To them, war and America are synonymous. America is great; war is great. Sadly, it's not just the elite establishment who believes this. Even though most Americans have turned against the Iraq occupation, and with good reason, this is the prevailing attitude among US citizens today. And that's really no surprise. Think about it for a couple of seconds. The schools teach US history as a series of wars, which creates the implicit but insanely strong assumption that that's what we're all about. Movies and TV shows have glorified the American warrior for decades. The hypermasculine pop culture of the badass, from hip hop thugs to tough guy cops, only magnifies the idea.

We're fucking trained to want war. Every goddamned day. Really, it's amazing that we're not at war more often.