Remembering the Lessons of the Iraq War
Today, I want to talk about the 2003 Iraq War. The Iraq War was important to me, because it was like the start of my political consciousness. I was 16 and in college, and it was the first big political event to have truly influenced me. Back then, I believed the war was unjust, and the elites were both manufacturing consent for, and otherwise pressuring the people to, support an unjust war. From that, I saw that the so-called liberal democratic system that we were living in was neither liberal nor democratic, in the true sense of these words, if this was allowed to happen. Nearly two decades later, I still stand by my views.
The fact is, the establishment may call the West, as it stands, liberal and democratic, and they may even try to label themselves the guardians of the liberal and democratic order, but it doesn’t mean that it is true. Real liberals must denounce this, if we want to keep our ideals free from their contamination. Let me say this: a truly liberal and democratic system would never have been able to launch the Iraq War. If America, Britain and Australia were truly liberal and democratic, the Iraq War would not have happened. Indeed, Western countries have been involved in most major international conflicts since 1945, the involvement had been generally decided by the establishment unilaterally, and I believe that none of it would have happened if the West was truly liberal and democratic.
As I like to say, if real liberalism and real democracy triumphed in the West, not only would the West be better for it, but the whole world would also be much more peaceful. Simply because things like the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and so on just won’t happen anymore. Therefore, I believe it is our duty as Western citizens to make this happen. Uphold real liberalism, reject elite establishment control, and end all these unnecessary wars forever.
Back when the Cold War ended in the late 20th century, there was real hope that the endless wars would finally come to an end. But then, our ruling elites continued to have the Cold War mentality, that is, they divide the world into friends and enemies, they find threats where there are none, and they manufacture consent for conflict and war by encouraging a fearful us-vs-them mentality in the electorate. The so-called War On Terror was the first demonstration of how this model could be used beyond the Cold War. I’m worried that the elites will keep on using it, to keep manufacturing consent for more conflict and more war. This is bad news both from a world peace perspective, as well as from a domestic perspective in Western countries, because international conflict have usually meant severe restrictions on freedoms at home, as evidenced by the Dixie Chicks cancellation in 2003, events in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
We have limited ability to stop the elites from being pro-war, as it stands. In the longer run, we need to make things more liberal and democratic, as mentioned earlier, so that it would be much more difficult for the elites to start a conflict. In the meanwhile, calling out elite misuse of terms like ‘freedom’, ‘liberal’ and ‘democratic’ to justify international conflict, as well as rejecting pro-conflict propaganda from the elites, are good strategies. Too many people fell for the Bush administration’s idea of ‘spreading freedom’ back then, and we must avoid this happening again. Perhaps a good strategy would be to just mind our own business. I don’t understand enough about the world outside the West to make comments about them, and I don’t comment on things outside the West. I also think this mind our own business strategy is a good strategy to prevent the elites from being able to manufacture consent for more international conflict. Besides, it would be unreasonable to expect the whole world to adopt Western systems and Western values, given the vast differences in cultural background. This is why, ideas like ‘spreading freedom’ are not only stupid, they are essentially meaningless excuses our elites use to manufacture consent for their wars.
Originally published at http://taraellasunnya.blogspot.com.