It seems it is beginning to dawn on the war hawks that they just might (maybe, possibly1) have been duped. It’s a pathetic spectacle.
I’m not, note well, talking about any of those “Bush Lied” marginalia. To a dedicated hawk, the issue of whether the Bush administration provided disingenuous rationales for the invasion is secondary to the question of whether or not the invasion served America’s strategic interests. That is, for a war hawk, the end justifies, or at least excuses, the means.
For the sake of argument, I’ll grant the hawks’ dubious premise that the invasion of Iraq, if had been carried out properly, with opportunity costs duly considered, would have been the best possible use of America’s military might in the context of an ongoing global War on Terror. That stipulated, no one ought to have held out a shred of hope, when it became clear that the United States’ armed forces would be sent into Iraq, that their mission would be anything but bungled, and bungled badly.2
Why were all such hopes foolishly misplaced? Because the government of the United States is not the best medicine for what ails the West. It is the West’s most malignant tumor.
Is that too much to swallow? In lieu of a spoonful of sugar, I offer this:
An 11-year-old girl who threw a stone at a group of boys pelting her with water balloons is being prosecuted on serious assault charges in California. Maribel Cuevas was arrested in April in a police operation which involved three police cars and a helicopter. [Link]
A government of savages — that is, a government that is capable of this — cannot be trusted with any mission whatsoever, least of all a mission to protect life and property from savage assault.3 Not convinced? Consider whether the government that is capable of this or this or this or this or this or this or this ought to be trusted with any mission whatsoever.
“But this government is all we’ve got! We need it!” Wrong. What needs to be recognized is this: terrorism notwithstanding, Americans are in a state of emergency that can best be ended by ending the state.
Try to understand: the strategic situation of the world right now is a Rube Goldberg machine.4 The penultimate element in this weird contraption is a Damoclean boot, poised to stamp upon the face of humanity forever. Osama bin Laden is nothing more than the mouse, now forgotten, that nibbled at the balanced plate of cheese, and set the mechanism in motion. Who built this Dadaist doomsday device? If you have to ask, then, brothers, you asked for it.5
[For those who might wonder, this post is not part of the series of projected anti-state posts which began with “More Eggs” — TF]
1. ARI reminds me of the kid imploring Shoeless Joe: “Say it ain’t so!” It’s so. The U.S. Government has no intention of mounting an effective offense against the terrorists. The most charitable interpretation of the evidence (that retains plausibility) is that this is because the government is constitutionally incapable of conceiving of an effective offense, let alone mounting one.
2. If by some accident, Iraq turns out, years from now, to have served to secure the lives and liberties of Americans, it will be just that, an accident. National Defense is not a birthday party, and Iraq is not a piñata (or a roll of flypaper, or any other such nonsense).
3. If you miss my point just here, it’s probably because you’ve confused federalism with feudalism.
4. As it long has been, a fact demonstrated most memorably by Gavrilo Princip.
5. Objectivists especially. The Oval Office is your Room 101. You know what’s in Room 101.
3 thoughts on “Footnote on Iraq — Or: Anarchism by Juxtaposition II”
I think you’d be hard pressed to find a supporter of the war any less hopeful than ARI that the government would have the will to prosecute it effectively. Nor did any ARI writer ever, to my knowledge, get behind the idea that Iraq was the best target. I have always taken its support of the government in the Iraq war to be along the lines of “OK, if this is the best you’re willing to commit to, it’s better than nothing. Now, because you so clearly need it, here’s some advice for actually following through.” Calling ARI “duped” is absurd.
I have not followed ARI’s commentary on Iraq closely, but I think your characterization is accurate: ARI’s support of this phase of the erstwhile “War on Terror” has been critical and laden with caveats. But it is precisely because of their reservations that ARI and all hawks of a feather are in fact worse dupes than those who have supported the Iraq war without reservations.
What Objectivists have been duped (by themselves) into believing is that, since a defense from terrorist attack is needed, and since the federal government is charged with the function of national defense, it is possible for the Bush administration to provide this defense. But obviously this is a non sequitur. That American life and property need defense from Islamic terrorists does not imply that there exists an institution capable of providing this defense at all, and it certainly doesn’t imply that the U.S. Government is such an institution.
My central argument in this post is that the U.S. Government is so corrupt (and worse than corrupt: savage) that it doesn’t matter what strategy it adopts for the war. It doesn’t matter whether “we” plan to bomb Iran or invade Canada or do nothing or nuke the Middle East into a giant sheet of radioactive glass. It doesn’t matter whether “we” follow ARI’s strategic recommendations or those of the Martian Beatniks for Peace. The U.S. Government is constitutionally incapable of mounting an effective defense against the terrorist savages, in principle, because it itself is a government of, by, and for savages.
If the Ayn Rand Institute weren’t duped, its advice to the Bush administration would not be to abandon the nation-building quagmire in Iraq and begin bombing Iran. It would be just this: “Dissolve.”
(Now, might it be that the American adventures in the Middle East end up doing more good than harm? Yes. And if I put all my savings into lottery tickets, I might strike it rich. Might it be that if ARI ran the DOD the odds of the war doing more good than harm might be significantly better? Yes. And if I play blackjack rather than roulette, odds are I’ll do better in Vegas.)
The U.S. has every intention of mounting an effective offensive against terrorists as the Regan Administration had of mounting an effective offensive against the drug dealers of Columbia.
The war on terror proves to be just as profitable as the war on drugs has been.