May 25, 2007

Iraq: The Triumph of Ideology Over Reality

Second to atheism, I believe the topic on which I have read the most this year would be that of Iraq - specifically path to and initial management of the war by the Bush administration. I'm currently just over halfway through Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, almost certainly a book I will be able to recommend after I finish it. After reading this and several other lengthy tomes on Bush and Iraq, one conclusion is inescapable: the central theme (and perhaps even the legacy of his administration) is one of ideology winning over reality and the devastating consequences this has wrought.

For someone who has been doing so much reading on the subject, I have written surprisingly little about Iraq here. In part, this has been a deliberate choice because I think there are a number of excellent political blogs doing a better job with this complicated subject than I probably could. And yet, I must also acknowledge that part of my reluctance has come about from feeling like Iraq has turned into a no-win situation. Staying the course is clearly not a viable option, but an overly abrupt withdrawal could lead to widespread ethnic cleansing.

The single most disturbing aspect of what I have read is the pervasive overreliance on ideology at the expense of reality throughout the Bush administration. This not only led us to war, but it continues to maintain our strategy (or lack thereof). Again and again, the troubling facts indicate that many people within the administration prior to the invasion which contradicted most of what the public was told as Bush made his case for war. The intelligence community had already discredited reports of Iraq buying uranium in Niger, the use of aluminum tubes in nuclear centrifuges, the existence of mobile biological weapons labs, and almost every other justification we were asked to swallow. Blinded by ideology, the decision-makers ignored this information, handing us a case they knew to be false. This is inexcusable by itself, but the fact that so many Americans and Iraqis have died and will continue to do so is beyond despicable.

Despite reports of ongoing investigations into prewar intelligence by Congress, I will be surprised is Bush is ever held accountable. Low poll numbers is not enough. Too many are dying for his ideology.

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