It’s been evident that many Americans have been offering only begrudging support for the war, generally based upon six ideas: 1. The president and his decisions should be supported, because it is important to present a unified front. 2. The troops should be supported, since the soldiers are putting their lives on the line on behalf of everyone else. 3. The average Iraqi citizen wants to be liberated, and we are the only nation which can do it. 4. Many nations—a sufficient number—support us. 5. Our nation is threatened by potential terrorist attacks and use of weapons of mass destruction. 6. It will be easy: a short war, handily won, with few, if any, American deaths, and minimal financial cost. Now I see many acquaintances who have supported the war rapidly changing their minds, migrating more toward the center, developing a more finely nuanced opinion which is difficult to classify as liberal or conservative, but fairly easy to classify as, “I feel this new way because the war is bothering me, interfering with my life, and interfering with my state of mind.” Bush knows this, and the campaign has begun to revert those opinions. Why are war-supporters changing their minds? — The coalition troops rolled through Iraq too fast, working on the assumption that any opposition forces were either dealt with, tentative allies ready to rebel against the Iraqi regime, or simply interested in liberation. Now the coalition has to re-cover that ground to prevent attacks from behind. Conclusion: The war won’t be easy or quick. — The much-heralded and then much-derided shock and awe failed. Conclusion: the war won’t be easy or quick. — The spectacle of Iraqis cheering their liberators has been rare, though heavily reported when it does happen. More common now are the reports of dead Iraqi civilians, the craters and exploded buildings, and memories of Americans withdrawing support of rebels who chose to fight Saddam in 1991. Conclusions: Iraqis don’t necessarily want to be liberated, because they’re not sure if Americans are there to help them or kill them. The war won’t be easy without the help of Iraqi rebellion. — Many of the family members of soldiers are repulsed and outraged by the antiwar protestors, but at the same time witnessing dead and captured Americans on the television and in the newspapers, and stories of gleeful manhunts for a downed pilot. American soldiers are dying and will die. Conclusion: The best way to support the troops is to bring them home, and quickly. — Bush administration’s attempt to paint the coalition as an alternate United Nations, or “USUN” as the Onion put it, is weak. Other nations are offering only token support, perhaps a few hundred soldiers and offers to help clean up after the party, usually in exchange for financial support, and usually in direct opposition to those nations’ popular opinion. The British, supposedly with us, are clearly divided, and have little respect for Bush, and Canada is mostly sitting this one out. Conclusions: Our coalition is a sham. It is not based upon agreement, but upon under-handed deals. — The protests around the country, while not swaying the government, let fence-sitters and wafflers know they are not alone: others are expressing various levels of disagreement with the government and its war policy. Conclusion: If I do not support the war, I am not an oddball or freak. I’m like about half of my neighbors, and that reassures me that my opinions and doubts are okay. — No weapons of mass destruction have been found. Information supporting their existence was forged. No terrorists attacks have taken place on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001, despite all the warnings, alerts and code oranges. No banned missiles have been found or fired, although other, non-banned missiles have been. Use of chemical weapons is anticipated, but it has not happened yet. Conclusion: There is less of a threat to the United States than was feared. — The threat to daily liberties feels strongest home. Conclusion: More Americans—particularly libertarians and others interested in less government in their lives—are beginning to wonder what, exactly, they are being protected from by soldiers fighting overseas. — Bush has asked for 75 billion dollars to pay for the war. Conclusion: This isn’t going to be cheap.
Posted March 26, 2003