This post is a continuation of some comments in a previous post. To read them, click here.
I dunno who I agree with here, because there'a a place in my heart for both positions, really, but I think I'm inclined towards The Greatness' point of view at first blush.
I think first of all it would be a big step in the right direction if we could just admit that the concept of morality in foreign policy doesn't really exist, and never has, at least in recorded history. This would, somewhat paradoxically, eliminate a lot of the specious modern justifications for war, ostensibly based in ideas of morality.
From there, The Greatness' proposal is a logical next step, particularly if we are also going to disregard the international legal framework as it pertains to our own behavior (as we plainly are and have since its inception.)
If we are going to act unilaterally, disregarding external legal frameworks, there must be some objective internal framework for making the decision to make war.
Now, all this logicalness unfortunately leaves aside the most important question, to which we return - exactly why did a majority of the US population support the invasion of Iraq?
There's no single answer to that question, of course, since we're talking about the opinions of millions of people. But we can speculate, with at least some evidence, on what drove the people who were NOT in support of an Iraq invasion in the summer of 2002 (when support for the invasion was at best lukewarm, and restricted mostly to Republicans) to support the same invasion in early 2003.
Now, obviously the specific reasons, especially the administration's (now) plainly baseless claim that Iraq was close to developing a usable nuclear weapon, have been well explored.
But one overriding factor that hasn't been discussed much is one I tried hamhandedly to get into sometime in the recent past, while I was in a bad mood. I approach it again now, hopefully with more aplomb...
In U.S. intellectual culture, it is implicitly assumed that being wrong in opposing a war is worse than being wrong in supporting one. It's easy to see that in the case of Iraq, since every time the Iraq war seems to be taking a turn for the better, the Op/Ed pages are suddenly full of crowing, while no corresponding comeuppance ever seems to pour forth when war supporters' previous utterances suddenly become inoperative.
As free-market economists are fond of reminding us (though usually not in this context) people, including our great and shining intellectual elite, respond to incentives. When opposing a bad war carries with it no increase in credibility or esteem, and supporting a bad war carries no penalty, well, it's not that difficult to see why an intellectual culture like that would wind up supporting idiotic invasion after idiotic invasion.