… Sometimes war is just war, sufficient unto itself, self-justifying.
Inserting myself into an debate in progress… Yes, I think we’re definitely looking at a “stab in the back” reaction from the right, should we pull out of Iraq in any sane time period. I’m doubtful it will actually carry any weight with the public at large … but what do I know?
But that sentiment will exist, and it’s because there’s a signficant percentage of Americans who are simply reflexively pro-war. I think it’s an unfortunate but powerful aspect of human nature. It’s not just that we had to defeat the Nazis and Tojo (for instance) to “preserve our freedom”, since many of us rarely try to define that freedom, nor do many of us cherish the very real freedoms we enjoy, as Matt enumerates. War is a essentially a tribal affair: It’s good enough that war is Us vs. Them, and there need not be any external justification for it.*
The shenanigans leading up to the Iraq War were not so much appeals to reason hijacked by faulty evidence, as appeals to a national post-9/11 blood-lust buttressed by flimsy or downright dishonest justifications. And we’re learning — again — that war is not its own reward. I wonder if it will stick this time.
*That’s why John Edwards says “We need to be patriotic about things besides war.”