Friday, February 07, 2003

Okay, so maybe a little explanation is in order. When the first Gulf War came around, I did the usual thing. I worried, I ranted, I rave, I even went to a couple of protests. Granted, there was this girl, but I did genuinely object to what was coming out of the mouths of our president at the time. I objected to the fact that people I cared about (I had a cousin the Air Force, and my best friend's girlfriend was in the reserves and her unit was on the short list to get called up) might have to die in order to clean up a mess that our own incompetent and hypocritical leadership had allowed to happen. Not to mention that Bush was on my TV screen talking about "defending democracy and freedom" when the nation we were supposed to be "liberating" was a sexist, oil-drenched oligarchy. I objected to our troops flying off to save Kuwait and defend Saudi Arabia when our president had never even let the name of Tibet pass his lips. I objected to men and women my age being used as little more than Hessians in the service of Saudi Arabia, rented out to protect the corrupt royal family of a nation that thinks teaching women to read is being progressive.

But I liked making signs and chanting "No blood for oil!" while marching side by side with cute hippie chicks through the streets of Kirksville, where absolutely no one cared. I even kind of liked the protest where less than ten protesters showed up along with a couple of ROTC guys who wanted to argue with us. I especially liked it when one of the ROTC guys admitted that, yeah, it was pretty hard to trust the guy who ran the CIA for Nixon.

Now it's 12 years later (12 years? Jesus, how did that happen?), and I try and picture what the Middle East would look like if we hadn't intervened. Hell, I don't know; I suspect it's unknowable. But let's throw a few things out there. We'd probably be trading with Iraq, so that would mean more oil on the market, which should lead to lower gas prices. Our troop presence in the area would be much lower, which means probably no bases in Saudi Arabia, which was supposedly what set Osama Bin Laden off in the first place. But Bin Laden was primed to hate us, and if it hadn't been our troops in his homeland that set him off, it would have been something else. And as far as gas prices, well, my experience has been that they raise the prices whenever they think they can get away with it.

I'm starting to come around to the belief that the mideast is a sort of strange attractor, with the tendency of the region being a stable but chaotic state, and every attempt to tinker with it fails as the system falls back into a bloody equilibrium. There's never peace, but it never flares up into the kind of long-term all out firestorm that was WWII Europe either.

Naturally, I hope I'm wrong, but I haven't heard anything particularly convincing coming out of our current leadership.

Okay, so maybe I haven't actually changed my mind. 12 years ago I thought I was being lied to, and I didn't trust Bush I et al. to do a good job of it. Now I think a better crew never would have let it happen in the first place and, if it had come to war, would have taken out Saddam, or at least encouraged a Kurdish rebellion. But there's no point to playing "might have been", and no matter what we did or didn't do, the whole region's karmically inclined toward being a clusterfuck.

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