Getting to Iraq
Map of the Beltway snipings
Ok, we've been doing a series of essays on the election, but haven't gotten to foriegn policy yet.
So I want to start where I think the story truly begins: the Beltway Sniper.
In the fall of 2002, two men, John Muhammad Lee Boyd Malvo went on a random shooting spree in the Washington suburbs deep into Virginia. Random death is bad, purposeful death is much worse. Using a car as a shooter's platform, he shot ten people and wounded three others, including a school age child outside his school.
The government was so freaked by this, that there was military assistance to law enforcement, including aerial support. But in suburban DC, insolated from the violence which had dominated Baltimore and Washington, was shattered by these random killings.
I believe that the shootings, more than the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon defined the rush to attack Iraq.
I remember ABC's Terry Moran being interviewed by Claire Shipman, and he was shaken. Because no one could imagine death being so random.
So when Bush started in with his WMD story, the Beltway had been so shaken by the shootings, they believed the illogical. It set the stage for Bush's argument that we faced threats and needed to deal with them. If you want to get someone to agree with you, make them afraid first. Because they will be far more willing to seek protection.
The Dems didn't challenge Bush for that simple reason: fear. What if he was right and Saddam had a nuke?
Of course it was batshit insane. So is shooting people at random. So when Bush made up his scary stories, people were willing to consider them. And of course, the Dems had no answer to the sea of bullshit Bush was tossing their way.
Because the Beltway shooting planted that doubt, that opening which Bush lied his way through.
Why did it work so well? Because random death works well. It was lizard brain territory, past rational thought. And once the Beltway crowds were buying it, they sold what Bush was selling to the rest of America, already shaky about 9/11.
Iraq was not a rational decision, it was an emotional one and has been treated as such since then.
posted by Steve @ 12:58:00 AM