Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Four Years Later: No New Lessons

I have been pondering what to say on this fouth anniversary of Bush's Folly. On the first day of the war, I wrote about why it was a bad war:
This war is a bad war because it has no clear foundation, no clear objectives, and puts into place policy priorities that American citizens should be loth to follow.
A year later, I argued that it had been not only a bad war, but an illegal one:
The doctrine of pre-emption was the justification of this war. And by its own definition, it failed to meet the criteria. Pre-emption is: 1) a doctrine developed to combat terror; and 2) a doctrine that depends on immanent threat, even if the threat isn't immanent enough to qualify under accepted rules of war. But Iraq was not a terrorist state (or in the language of the Pentagon, not an "exporter of terror"), nor was there any threat to the US.
Then last year (having taken a year off), I more or less repeated the first two years. Hell, even before the war, I argued, mostly accurately, why the war was bad, illegal, ill-advised, and a grave danger to the US.

It's like a bad nightmare we just keep revisiting every year. On the eve of this dark anniversary, Bush sent yet more troops into Iraq on the same delusional beliefs that fueled the invasion and all the subsequent catastrophic decisions (torture, black sites, renditions, secret spying . . . ). The lessons didn't even need to be learned--they were self-evident to anyone not blinded by fear and arrogance who cared to look. And yet still, after four long years, here Bush is, ever the poor student, failing his homework assignment. (Another lesson: giving an arrogant, ignorant, incurious, rich kid the keys to the Pentagon may have shortsighted.)

The consequences get worse, though: 100,000 dead, at least double that number maimed and wounded; millions displaced. The civil war begat by this folly promises tens of thousands more bodies, perhaps hundreds of thousands more refugees.

I have no great hope that on the anniversary of year five I'll be writing something different: as long as the country and the Congress indulge Bush's delusions, we'll keep coming right back to this place.

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