The other question that came to me while watching the conservative opinion channels is this – why are right wingers so turned on by war? What is it about destroying property, sacrificing young men and incinerating civilians that makes war so appealing? Dick Cheney seems utterly devoted to the concept of fighting as many wars as possible, even though he and Bush passed on their own chance to put their lives on the line for their county when presented with the opportunity.
The line on Fox these days – and since it’s their policy to have panels comprised only of people who agree with each other, there’s a lot of echo going on – is that the surge worked in Iraq and that we are now "winning," a development that practically guarantees surge fan John McCain a victory in November. Of course in this case it’s not a semantic game to ask what winning in Iraq really means. The cons like to frame this war as if it were a more traditional conflict like World War Two, you know, one where the U.S. or our allies were attacked and we defended ourselves. It’s pretty easy to figure out when one of those is over, the other side surrenders, their capitol is occupied and their leader is captured. By those standards the war in Iraq was won long ago, but that’s clearly not the case. There must be different standards for a war of whim.
Let’s look at the ostensible reasons for the war and see if they are any closer to being achieved. The whole thing was sold to the American public as an urgent mission to prevent another immanent 9/11 by disarming a madman flush with weapons of mass destruction. Now of course that seems about as logical as me razing my block in order to prevent elephant infestation – Bush managed to prevent something that wasn’t going to happen. But that was just the aspect his regime chose to push the invasion – the big picture republican thinkers (oxymoron!) really had a grandiose idea about creating a free, capitalistic, moderate, secular, Israel loving ally in the heart of the Mideast whose heavenly values would rub off on all those around them. Clearly, no victory is in sight on that front either, and it’s safe to say that such a state will not emerge from the current situation. Fighting Al Qaeda is another circular goal, as that organization had no presence in Iraq before the invasion, profited mightily by it, although, as a foreign presence they are starting to be repelled by the Iraqi people, declaring victory there is rather like starting a fire then congratulating yourself for putting it out. No, at this point victory in Iraq means little more than leaving the country in a slightly better condition that we found it, which most Iraqis would say is far from the case.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq were conducted in strict accordance with conservative ideology. Since Pope Ronnie Reagan declared that government is the problem rather than the solution, all branches of government were destroyed. Privatization is another holy word to the right and became the main priority in the crucial early days of reconstruction. Of course the result of the application of these sacred principles was not untidy freedom and a booming economy but sheer anarchy. But physics tells us that even total chaos will eventually resolve into some kind of order. In Iraq all the sectarian violence and murder has lead to a de facto separation of Sunni and Shiite. Local strongmen have taken over the responsibility for keeping order, which accounts for the current lessening, but by no means cessation, of suicide blasts and bullet riddled bodies. There is no real viable national government, no functional army, judiciary or police, and not much prospect of any developing. Rather than spreading democratic values we’ve alienated much of the rest of the world and made Iraq’s neighbors grateful for the tyrants who at least maintain power and water. This is the progress that is trumpeted by the right, this is the victory we’re so close to.
So why is it so important to the right to continue the charade? Again you can break it down two ways, the psychological and the economic. The constant desire to be manly, tough and hard, certainly speak to a certain anxiety about masculinity that seems to pervade the conservative movement, and their burning desire to force American "values" on the rest of the world would seem to indicate that they don’t believe those values have much appeal on their own. But let’s face it, war is big business for the old military-industrial complex, and the profits for administration supporters and favorites like Halliburton and Blackwater beggar belief. What a boon for the supporters of the Republican party if we do have troops in Iraq for a hundred years as McCain envisions. Think of all the profit taking, over billing and graft that could be accomplished in that period, especially since the war budget has been separated from scrutiny. It’s pretty obvious that the right’s high minded idealism and patriotism always seem to lead to the fattening of their wallets. The talking heads on Fox no longer try to deify Bush, but they still endorse the hard right direction he’s taken the country, despite the fact that it has led America straight over a cliff.