Posted on August 15, 2008 by


My interest in politics was fairly non-existent until after I returned from Brazil. Sure, I follow the mess that was the 2000 election and watch way too much Fox News (gag) at the impressionable age of 18 but I hadn’t really formed too many opinions on the matter.

While in a sophomore English class at Snow College I was tasked with writing position papers for and against a particular topic. I happened to choose the pressing topic in early 2003 which was the pending invasion of Iraq. This was particularly suited to my abilities because… well…

I’m a massive news junkie.

You could sit me down in front of an RSS feed coming off the AP and Reuters wires and I’d be happy as a Ronald McDonald-esque clown. This actually happens on slow days at work as my productivity plummets to nil. But work confessions are for another time.

As I was studying the buildup and reading numerous arguments for and against the invasion, I was struck by one massive bit of irony which I happened to comment on the time in class.

I was hugely conflicted by the fact that we were proposing to bomb a country in order to impose democracy on them. This was not the primary argument at the time. WMDs were shoved down everyone’s throat until we gagged on the noxious fumes emanating from the TV and computer screen. “Liberating” a people who had not asked for it was the side benefit of the excursion.

Previous conflicts like WWII, Korea and Vietnam usually found us as defenders of freedom from the communist/fascist aggressors whereas we were now proposing to preempt any such attack by taking the role of the aggressor. Conveniently we also got to be the one to give the losers democracy (Japan, Germany, South Korea and now Iraq.)

This was all taking place within a post-9/11 framework of everyone freaking out about WMDs, “terists,” and supporting our troops. I’m amazed looking back now about how powerful a motivating factor fear is. Fear had such a powerful grip on us as a nation which extended to myself as well. It was a fear borne by a threat that was real and continues to exist in the shadows, but often extremely overwrought by our leaders and those in the media.

Benefiting from hindsight now, I see so many flaws in the arguments that I’m ashamed to admit I succombed to the fear and supported the invasion in 2003.

Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

Hermann Goering
Nazi Air Marshal

But perhaps we would have been best served by listening to sage advice from The Princess Bride. You know it by heart so I’m not even going to type it here because it really is the most famous blunder. But I will let Vizzini jog your memory:

4,144 dead, 30,244 wounded and $567,000,000,000 later…

Yeah. Let’s never involved in a land war in Asia again, ok?

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