I haven't blogged much about the war here because my opposition to it is less strong than most of my co-bloggers. I described myself as "marginally opposed" to the War in Iraq from the start, with the "marginally" mostly due to not wanting to be associated with the variety of other questionable causes of the anti-war movement. I did and still do share the skepticism of many of you about the ability of the US gov't to rebuild a nation when it can't even deliver the mail. However, I also believe that the demise of Saddam Hussein, taken in isolation, was a significant step forward for human freedom, and was willing to be convinced it might be worth it. I also have more sympathy for the plight of Israel in the turmoil of the mid-east than perhaps others here do (obligatory note: that does not let Israel off the hook for its many wrongdoings).
In the last few weeks, however, I find myself becoming increasingly radicalized in my opposition to the war. It's not just that the costs of the activity that deposed a dictator are rapidly increasing, especially the body counts of both American soldiers and innocent Iraqis, nor prison abuses in and of themselves, nasty as they are. It's more a sense that this whole operation was done on the fly, with no framing ethical or philosophical concerns (of course why I or anyone should expect war to have such concerns is a good question, as I awake from my slumbers...). Now, as more prison abuse stories come out (see especially this one on the treatment of women prisoners), I'm more and more convinced that we don't, and never did, know what we're doing there, and the result of that ignorance, as it frequently is with state action, is that the "worst get on top" to paraphrase a chapter title from Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. In the absence of the requisite knowledge to do what is "right," those with a comparative advantage in the making of war without concern about what's "right" will rise to the top. When agents of the US government begin to use the same sorts of justification for the inhumane treatment of prisoners that totalitarian regimes do, even if it's only a small fraction of the military as a whole, then it's time to step back and ask just what it's all about. If this is the road away from serfdom... no thanks.
To quote one of the great philosophers of the 20th century:
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss