Thursday :: Jun 3, 2004

Why We Fought - Select At Least One Rationale


by pessimist

A favorite theme in science fictions stories is the ability to travel between alternate universes, where a minor event in the past split reality into at least two separate realities travelling parallel paths through space-time, differentiated by the possible outcomes of the past minor event. One story that is most apt right now is one where time travel has been developed, and people are taken back to the age of dinosaurs. There is only one proviso - don't kill anything lest it cause a disruption in the space time continuum (remember Dr. Brown in Back To The Future?).

As one trip returns from that time, it's immediately evident that something has gone incredibly wrong. The free and demcratic society they left has been replaced with a totalitarian dictatorship. The cause? One of the passengers stepped on a primeval insect.

One of George Warmonger Bush's repetitive rantings has to do with justifying the invasion of Iraq. Considering that this story has changed numerous times, one can only wonder just how many parallel universes he infests.

One grad student was bothered by all of the changes in the rationale and decided to research just how many reasons were offered.

Heard any good rationales for the war lately? If not, maybe you ought to talk to Devon Largio, a new graduate of University of Illinois, who says her research turned up 23 different rationales offered by the Bush administration in the year after 9/11. They're all laid out in her 212-page senior honors thesis, Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq: The Words of the Bush Administration, Congress and the Media from September 12, 2001, to October 11, 2002.

Largio is neither Bush-basher nor committed dove, she said. But the war is an obvious watershed in the life of a 22-year-old, and she "really just wanted to figure out why we went to war." So she decided to kill two birds with one stone: She would answer the question that was nagging her and produce a senior honors thesis in the process.

The work is largely a computer-driven analysis of the available public statements of Bush administration officials and key members of Congress during the run-up to war. By searching key words, she was also able to map the administration's shifting interest from Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida to Saddam Hussein and Iraq -- and also the media's response to that shift.

And did she ever "figure out why we went to war"?

"I didn't include this in my paper," she said, "but I'm as torn now as I was when I started. I tend to accept the good intentions of the president, and it's tempting to say that if they have 23 reasons for going to war, we probably should have gone. On the other hand, I find myself thinking that if they had to keep coming up with new reasons for going to war, we probably shouldn't have done it.

It's almost like the decision came first, then the rationales."

All 23 of them.

"Sentence first. Verdict afterwards," demanded the Red Queen.

It's tempting to take liberties with the famous "Dr. Fell" verse of English satirist Tom Brown:

I must blast Saddam to Hell. The reason why, I cannot tell. But this I know, and know full well, I must blast Saddam to Hell.

NOTE: many sites claim 27 separate rationales, and as the bulk of them do so, it looks like linked article author William Raspberry got it wrong. I left his text intact as written deliberately.

pessimist :: 8:49 AM :: Comments (2) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!