People don’t always get what they want. War is hell. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
I don’t write about politics very often. There are two reasons, neither of which is a lack of interest. First, there are enough dabblers in the subject on the Internet; the world doesn’t need to hear from another person who mistakes smarts for political insight. Second, I generally feel that one’s political beliefs are best left out of conversations with strangers, a rule that tends to protect both participants. (If you, Dear Reader, are not a stranger, I apologize heartily. Email me and I’ll willingly rant away.) My misgivings about the long-term effects of America’s disregard for our allies, my disgust with what I see as the Bush Administration’s deliberate attempt to blur the issues surrounding the conflict in order to gain domestic political capital, and my discomfort with what I see as reflexive and ill-thought-out anti-war stances on the left are political issues. I’m not going to talk about them. There are fine writers (and decent people) who seem to share a great many of my beliefs and concerns, and if you’re looking for that sort of thing, I recommend you visit Kevin Drum’s CalPundit and find your way from there. Discussing the war — be it my concerns about a looming Turkish-Kurdish-Iranian conflict, the breakdown of Donald Rumsfeld’s "Afghan model" (which worked so very well in Afghanistan), or simply mourning the dead — is not a political issue. On the other hand, whereas I’m as knowledgable about politics as anyone else who reads The Economist and the Post, that level of familiarity with matters of war is rather useless. I can’t tell how the war is going, no matter how much I read the excellent coverage at the BBC or the rather astounding news roundup provided by the Agonist, it’s not going to really make me better informed. Misinformation and disinformation are the bread and butter of wartime journalism. I can read the comments over at the left-leaning Daily Kos or the right-leaning Tacitus. Kos or Tacitus are veterans and know viscerally what Army life is like, but I’m not sure anyone who’s talking really has any idea what’s going on. This is the live television coverage war, but if there’s a 21st Century Ernie Pyle out there, I don’t think he or she has been revealed yet. So it’s a diet of worry and obsessive reading. I feel useless and stupid and disconnected from the people runnng the country, but there’s nothing to do but hope and pray that this ends as well as it possibly can (and from my stance on day seven, it’s pretty clear that "as well as it possibly can" is not going to be the same as "as well as it possibly could"). We’re going to win the war one way or another, but I want this to be as bloodless as possible, for our men and women to get home safely, for it not to stretch into years of occupation and guerilla war or turn into a multinational bloodbath. Someone has made a giant mistake, and I want it not to have been America. I want the long-term outcomes of this war to be a free and prosperous Iraq, not fascistic nations getting ideas about how to discourage war (or, for that matter, a shattered U.N. and a series of new American client states). I don’t want to turn on the news tomorrow and find out that three hundred Marines have died. I don’t want for it to be accepted wisdom some day that they died in vain.
People don’t always get what they want. War is hell. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. None