Exeunt: lightning and thunder, shock and awe. Dust, ash, fog, fire, smoke, sand, blood, and a good deal of waste now moves to the wings. The stage, however, remains occupied. The question posed at curtain-rise has not been answered. Why did we go to war? If no real weapons of mass destruction are found, the question will keen in pitch.
Or, if more likely, such weapons are uncovered in Iraq — not a tenth, not a hundredth of what we possess — but, yes, if such weapons are there, it is also likely that even more have been moved to new hiding places beyond Iraq. If that is so, horrific events could ensue. Should they take place, we can count on a predictable response: “Good, honest, innocent Americans died today because of evil al-Qaeda terrorists.” Yes, we will hear the President’s voice speaking before he even utters such words. (For those of us who do not like George Bush, we may as well recognise that putting up with him in the Oval Office is like being married to a mate who always says exactly what you know in advance he or she is going to say, which also helps to account for why the other half of America loves him.)
The key question remains — why did we go to war? It is not yet answered. In the end, it is likely that a host of responses will produce a cognitive stew, which does, at least, open the way to offering one’s own notion. We went to war, I could say, because we very much needed a war. The US economy was sinking, the market was gloomy and down, and some classic bastions of the erstwhile American faith (corporate integrity, the FBI, and the Catholic Church, to cite but three) had each suffered a separate and grievous loss of face. Since our Administration was probably not ready to solve any one of the serious problems before it, it was natural to feel the impulse to move into larger ventures, thrusts into the empyrean-war!
Be it said that the Administration knew something a good many of us did not — it knew that we had a very good, perhaps even an extraordinarily good, if essentially untested, group of Armed Forces, a skilled, disciplined, well-motivated military, career-focused and run by a field-rank and general staff who were intelligent, articulate, and considerably less corrupt than any other power group in America.