Iraq, the Rorschach test

The Psychologist-in Chief whips out a new inkblot on which to project our hopes for Iraq: Revolutionary War America, conflating images of Continental Army soldiers trading pitchforks for muskets to defend their homeland with National Guardsmen sent to play referee in another nation’s civil war unleashed by, well, us.

It’s not the ever-shifting series of analogues that the president applies to Iraq to which we should pay attention (despite the bizarreness of some of the comparisons); rather, it’s the subtext, the rationale behind them. So when Bush held up South Korea as a fit model for the future of American militarism in Iraq, it’s not the relatively placid scene of peacekeepers sleepily gazing across a quiet demilitarized zone that we should envision so much as the prospect of “a long-term, imperial military presence.” When Bush posited Israel as a yardstick – not free from violence, maybe, but “functioning” and “carrying out its responsibilities” – it’s hard to avoid hearing the tacit admission of drastically lowered expectations: the violence in Iraq cannot be borne away and that the Iraqis will just have to live (and die) with it.

The subtext of Bush’s American Revolution analogy is simple, obvious, breathtakingly cynical: Your fear is required in order to prosecute the war. So be afraid. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

(Cross-posted.)

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Iraq, the Rorschach test

  1. Melissa McEwan

    The subtext of Bush’s American Revolution analogy is simple, obvious, breathtakingly cynical: Your fear is required in order to prosecute the war. So be afraid. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

    Spot. On.

    And beautifully written.

  2. Yeah, it’s a classic case of “move the cheese.” Or maybe “pea and shell” is more appropriate.

    The layers of the onion of this war are going to being peeled for years to come. They’ve covered a lot of casualties by esssentially privatizing this war– having “private contractors” doing jobs that a soldier would normally do in an occupation. Oops– there I went and did it– called it an occupation. In any event, there are deaths, and physical and psychological injuries to these people– it’s a front-page story on the New York Times today. It’s pure evil genius– bring in private contractors (in my day they called them “mercenaries”) and you don’t have to count them in with casualties. I’m curious about money, too– does that get counted in with military spending, or does it become yeet another device to hide the true cost of this war?

  3. Melissa McEwan

    I’m curious about money, too– does that get counted in with military spending, or does it become yeet another device to hide the true cost of this war?

    That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure about the answer myself, to be honest, but I know there are already issues with divining the “true cost of this war” just based on how the funding itself is granted, i.e. budgeted expenses v. emergency spending.

  4. Anne

    Um, he is aware that his approval rating is 27 percent, isn’t he?

  5. And of course there are expenses I have no doubt will not be counted in to this war– like the monetary costs of a vet with a horrific body or brain injury– the lifetime costs of medical care, and the fact that a young and talented person is going to spend a lifetime needing help, rather than working and paying taxes. And of course, this cannot account for the non-fiduciary costs– a lifetime of struggle and pain.

    God, I hate these people.

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