Friday, December 16

The War in Iraq and the Middle East

This post started off as a simple back-log report and developed a direction.

+ We lost over 20k in Iwo Jima and we won. If we lose 2k-plus in almost three years in Iraq, then we must be losing. Where are the wise men? Hell, where are the journalists with any sense of history?

+ More from Tom, this time quoting self-described liberal George Cohen in the Washington Post regarding the movie 'Syriana' :

A movie does not have to stick to the facts.  

Still, if it is going to say anything, then it ought to say something smart and timely. But, the cynicism of "Syriana" is out of time and place, a homage to John le Carre, who himself is dated. To read George Packer's "The Assassin's Gate" is to be reminded that the Iraq war is not the product of oil avarice, or CIA evil, but of a surfeit of altruism, a naïve compulsion to do good. That entire collection of neo- and retro-conservatives--George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and particularly Paul Wolfowitz--made war not for oil or for empire but to end the horror of Saddam Hussein and, yes, reorder the Middle East.  

They were inept. They were duplicitous. They were awesomely incompetent, and, in the case of Bush, they were monumentally ignorant and incurious, but they did not give a damn for oil or empire. This is why so many liberals, myself included, originally supported the war. It engaged us emotionally. It seemed … well, right--a just cause.  It would be nice if Hollywood understood that. It would be nice if those who agree with Hollywood--who think, as [director and screenwriter] Gaghan does, that this is a brave, speaking-truth-to-power movie when it's really just an outdated cliché--could release their fervid grip on old-left bromides about Big Oil, Big Business, Big Government and the inherent evil of George Bush, and come up with something new and relevant. I say that become something new and relevant is desperately needed. Neoconservatism crashed and burned in Iraq, but liberalism never even showed up. The left's criticism of the war from the very start was too often a porridge of inanities about oil or empire or Halliburton--or isolationism by another name. It was childish and ultimately ineffective. The war came and Bush was re-elected. How's that for a clean whiff?

+ And then, just for the heck of it, an interesting review of 'Syriana' from someone with a lot of cultural familiarity (via Mark).

+ (I don't plan on seeing 'Syriana', by the way. It's not that I'm opposed. These guys liked a lot of it or are planning on seeing it. I like George Clooney, too (like Tom). He seems to rise a little above your normal Hollywood actor. I'm just not interested enough and don't usually pull away from the computer long enough during free time these days to watch a movie.)

+My take-away on this stuff (something for everyone to hate):

Big Oil is bad, and I really don't like it. They peddle their influence to make more money and, combined with cars, are the biggest industry on the planet.

I'm sure President Bush and VP Cheney are compromised in their political dealings because of their ties to Big Oil and and the military industrial complex. I would not go as far as Cohen and say that the neocons didn't give a damn about oil. I think it was in there, at least a little bit. This compromise is reason enough for me to not want their leadership. Of course, all politicians are, by (my) definition compromised (that being the essence of politics).

All that to say: the world is not caught up in some Big Oil, star chamber conspiracy. Occam's Razor applied here: It's easier to explain Big Oil's role with garden-variety greed and lust for power.

The Post op-ed brings up the President 's lack of curiousity. I continue to feel that President Bush's worldview is too simplistic. However, it is still preferable to the more sophisticated but cut-off-from-absolutes worldview of the Left.

Though I accept that neoconservatism crashed and burned in Iraq because of its own incompetence, it does not follow that the mission to change the Middle East through regime change in Iraq has failed or must. We should stay the course. They had free elections again in Iraq. In case you've gotten inured to it, this is amazing.

That's my (interpretation of this) story. It has been, and I'm sticking to it.

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