it’s the war

Reading my daily dose of James Lileks’ Bleat today I just felt I had to write something as my own less-well written response because there seems to be a great deal of convenient forgetting of facts.

He’s written a screed knocking people who have complained about Bush’s first campaign ads of the election, some of which show some images from September 11, 2001. I heard something on the radio about this last night – the quote was “The Administration is using Sept 11 for political gain” – and immediately though, well, duh, you’ve only just realized? But when I spoke with Emma last night I agreed with her that of course Bush lived through it and guided the country through it, therefore it’s a part of his presidency, and therefore fair game for him to use in ads.

But to address Mr Lileks’ concerns. Yes of course it’s important that people remember that time. I don’t think I’ll forget the queasy feeling of being in any office building and thinking “what if it was here?” and the overall feeling of being totally disoriented, which was even more strange when we were being saturated with news reports. However, the view I object to is that we had to include Iraq in the whole thing.

Right after 9/11 I felt Bush showed admirable restraint in taking time to weigh up facts and even getting some kind of agreement that going into Afghanistan was necessary and would make us safer. And I believe that it has, although clearly there’s still an enormous amount of work to do there, but as far as I can tell it really hit to the heart of the people who were attacking us.

However the diversion from that necessary mission to go for Iraq (the quote “this is the guy who tried to kill my dad” – shudder) on shaky intelligence (see this in Slate for more details) while consuming resources from what was happening in Afghanistan and from protection actually in America is not admirable. Even though yes, there were mass graves and Saddam was funnelling money away from the UN. Undeniably bad things. But I guess my point is that Iraq was not part of the war against terrorism, it was a separate thing which should be treated on its own merits (or lack thereof). The war against terrorism is necessary to make the West safer, and will hopefully improve people’s lives in other parts of the world. The war in Iraq I’m sure had benefits, allowing Muslims to celebrate festivals which had been forbidden, and people to complain and demonstrate against the new government such as it is. And it may have helped prod Iran and Syria to start taking action on opening up their weapons programs. But to lump it into the war on terrorism and to use the remembrance of those horrible days back in 2001 to justify it and to put down people who would question it is not a view I subscribe to.

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