Sunday, December 18, 2011

The fogs of war

Iraq, lost in the fog of war
As Obama declares the war in Iraq officially over, many wonder about which - if any - goals were achieved.

17 Dec 2011 - War, we are told, is a rational instrument of policy. States go to war to achieve specific objectives.

On such a view, determining the outcome of a war is a kind of bookkeeping exercise. One need only measure the results against the original purposes.

But war is far too wily a beast to be made sense of by such simple calculations. War draws combatants, their societies and politics, into its vortex and forever changes them. It does so not just once, but over and over again, until people forget who they were before the guns started firing.

War has a tendency to generate uncertainties and ambiguities of the most fundamental kind, about who is winning, about what has happened, and about just who we are.

At a moment of supreme - if relative - world power, the US invaded Iraq in March 2003 to prevent Saddam Hussein from rising from the ashes of the sanctions regime of the 1990s. The US sought also to supplant a hostile Iraq with a friendly American client. Iraq would be a base from which to exercise US influence and a replacement for the pliant Gulf monarchies, whose stability in the face of al-Qaeda was then far from assured.

For political consumption, and for gullible idealists, these goals were packaged as the threat of WMD and the spread of democracy. read more>>>

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