Jackson MeadWednesday,20 March 2013

The Snap:

March 20 is the ten-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War and, according to Gallup, the majority of the citizenry thinks it was a “mistake” sending in troops to Iraq. First, when did we start recognizing the start of wars? So, when did these wars start and did I miss the observances: Afghanistan War, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II? Ok, you knew (maybe) WWII. Second, Gallup’s question on war is stupid and nonsensical to ask a population, in general, and about this war in particular. If anything, the decision by Bush (43) and his team was the one thing that may not be considered a mistake by anyone since there will be long term benefits to the U.S.

The Download:

Something is a mistake if there is an error in calculation, opinion, or judgement caused by poor reasoning or carelessness, presupposing that there is a correct answer. With the Iraq War, or any war, we are not dealing with a math problem, where there is a right answer that may not be realized due to mistakes. We’re dealing with policy that may or may not pay off over time. What Gallup did was ask an opinion about the war as if there was a right or wrong answer.

We knew then, and in hindsight, that Bush did everything to make sure that we would go to war — the evidence for doing so was “irrefutable.” But even as the argument for going to war could not withstand even a modicum of scrutiny, which the 4th Estate completely failed in providing, for the Bush Administration there were no errors in actions, calculations or opinions — going to war was the “correct” thing to do. So, the survey respondents are rather expressing their opinion (belief) on a matter of fact that can’t be disputed because there is no correct answer. The question Gallup should have asked is “Do you believe there is a benefit having gone to war with Iraq?”

Undoubtedly the Administration saw the benefits, so why don’t the people? Because the war was prosecuted on a falsehood? More likely it is because the people are embarrassed because the reason we went to war was for oil — to satisfy our insatiable need to keep our gas-guzzling cars running. Deep down, we all know it is true. Those of you that think it was a mistake to go to war, I want to know your opinion when, likely in our lifetime, the U.S. runs out of its oil reserves.

I am not sure we have hit “Peak Oil” yet, but I know for a fact that one day there will be no more oil and the Bush Administration took action to delay that eventuality for the U.S. at least in terms of paving the way for securing a source of oil when the Saudi’s Oil runs out. This is could be why the Republicans emphatically (66%) answered the Gallup question with a “No.” They may see the benefit of their oil stocks being profitable while the Democrats turn a blind eye to this and other benefits.

Or, rather, the Gallup question shows some correlation between the respondent’s political affiliation and consideration of the war as a mistake or not. The point being that, the war was started by a Republican so the Republicans are going to believe that it was “not a mistake” and the Democrats will think it was “a mistake” no matter what. The same can be said for the question on the war in Afghanistan since the benefits of that war are minimal in the long term and yet the Republicans emphatically (66%) answered “No” to the question too.

This is why the question itself is bad — because it asks people to respond “factually” to a matter of opinion. There can be no mistake when politics are involved — one is trying to influence the other by means of policy so that the situation is ultimately beneficial. War, to paraphrase Von Clausewitz, is merely the continuation of policy by other means. So, once war has started, there is no way that it can be considered a mistake.

Considering any war a mistake does injustice to the those soldiers who gave their lives and to those people who lost their lives as innocent bystanders. In the end, it may be that the cost of *any* war used as an extension of policy is too great and should never be declared, but make no mistake about it; we’ve never “made a mistake sending in troops to fight” in this, or any other war.

Hat Tips:

Gallup Poll, World Oil Reserves, Peak Oil, Irrefutable, Image Credit: Flickr

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