Sunday, March 04, 2007

The coming Iraq syndrome

This is one of those questions that has lingered ever since things started going south in Iraq, which began almost immediately after "Mission Accomplished": will there be an Iraq Syndrome similar in kind to the Vietnam Syndrome? It is question that Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Ira Chernus, delves into and it comes with the very sobering consideration that, just as Reagan-led Republicans fed off the Vietnam syndrome and turned into a political operating platform to argue for more militarism and gainful imperial missions, so too might our terrible adventure of imperialism in Iraq create an equal, perhaps even greater, flight to further military buildup and international meddling.

The pattern after Vietnam is quite clear and it is a pattern that militarists and conservatives -- if indeed those are even differentiated -- will most likely exploit in an effort to keep our military-industrial complex humming. While the American public is profoundly against the Iraq war and its continuation, any withdrawal will be portrayed as a failure of "liberals," "the liberal media," "the anti-war movement" "the left" and anyone else who does not support the war, for not having the wherewithal to tough it out. To this day, we still hear right wing opinionators lament that Vietnam would have been winnable had it not been for the a general weakness of the American psyche. In post-Vietnam America, the resultant socio-psychological damage wrecked by that failed war of choice would chasten the political establishment against untoward ventures, at least for a short while.

That was not to be long lived, however, as Republicans rallied a backlash against this Vietnam syndrome, using the failed war as prima facie evidence that a bigger, meaner US military was needed. And, indeed, this is exactly what we got. Chernus argues, quite convincingly, that we could very likely see this happen all over again. Just as failure in Vietnam, and the attendant shock to the American psyche, would lead to Reagan's massive military buildup and fantasy-land Star Wars funding, so too might a perceived failure in Iraq lead to yet more militarism. The knaves who deliberately drove us into Iraq, ignoring all advice save their own preconceived notions, will ultimately use their own stupidity as reason for a bigger, more expensive military machine. They won't say that, of course, but that is the driving force behind this. It is a helluva racket, though. Debacle or victory; no matter what happens, the argument will always be made for more military spending.

If Republicans are one thing, they are predictable and, since "winning" in Iraq is most assuredly not on the table, we can all assume that a replay of the Vietnam syndrome backlash is exactly what is going to happen. Given that Bush recently endorsed an expansion of US military forces, along with missile defense boondoggles and next generation high tech weapons systems like Lockheed's new Joint Strike Fighter -- happily being built in Texas -- I think it is safe to conclude that it has already started.


Blogger Firestarter5 said...

PNAC has realized that while 9/11 did make a mark, it wasn't the "new Pearl Harbour" they were looking for. Time for something on a bigger scale....

7:24 PM  

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