Iraq Wasn't a Test of Democracy. It Was a Test of War

As Iraq's constitutional process breaks down, the blame for whatever follows will fall on America's head. This "test of democracy" in the Middle East no doubt is bound to fail, given that Iraq-watchers long before the U.S. invasion warned that the Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish factions were not a nation-state but a confederation held together by terror and armed might under Saddam.

I imagine we will see a flood of posts condemning the Bush administration for its folly, manipulation, self-deception, and ideological blindness, as it well deserves. I'd only like to raise a deeper question. When is America going to take peace seriously? I aim this question not at the war-mongering baddies but at the good people who never wanted this war and feel more justified every day.

Many of the same liberals and moderates who excoriate Bush have not lifted a finger to form a peace movement. The mainstream media reports on the current standoff at the Crawford ranch in David-versus-Goliath terms when in truth it is more like a pea shooter versus a million tanks.

The U.S. has been on a war footing since Dec. 7, 1941, mounting one of the world's largest peacetime armies and currently spending more on the military than the next 14 countries combined. If one heeds Yeats' prophetic warning that "the worst are full of passionate intensity," what about the other half of the line: "The best lack all convictions"?

If Bush's gamble had paid off, if the Iraqis had danced in the streets when the U.S. marched into Baghdad and kept dancing as they gratefully constructed a new democracy--despite the loss of perhaps tens of thousands of citizens--what then? Would liberals and moderates have sighed and been relieved that this war "worked"?

If this war had worked, the momentum to keep building an aggressive militant super-power would have only accelerated. As it is, simply to return to pre-Iraq levels of defense spending is more or less unthinkable. By holding on to this outmoded model of international aggression, a militant U.S. betrays the ideal of peace in every way.

Iraq was in reality a test of war, and it passed. More war is in the offing, and by passively allowing this conflict to happen, the good people helped pave the way for our next invasion or intervention. Passivity, not blood-thirstiness, is going to lead us into a hugely militarized future. America's addiction to war has just received another fix. The Bush administration and its cohorts don't care if this war is won or lost. Either outcome will reinforce the ethos of war and cut off any alternative.

Kerry and the Democratic National Committee knew that his only strategic option was to vote for the Iraqi war originally, because no anti-war candidate has a chance in a general election. That act of self-contradiction didn't win Kerry the Presidency, however, even against one of the weakest opponents imaginable. I think we should realize that liberals and moderates are in a lose-lose situation. Stop passively assenting to the U.S. as a war power and stand up for your belief in peace. You might be surprised, as I have been for the past five years how many people will stand up with you. To those who believe we can create a critical mass of peace consciousness, I recommend they visit (Alliance for the New Humanity).