I just read Arundhati Roy’s article “The algebra of infinite justice” in her very good and very depressing Power Politics. It was written on September 29, 2001; I’d forgotten that “Operation Infinite Justice” was once the code name for our war on Afghanistan. Anyways, I was struck by the following quote in the article:
The trouble is that once America goes off to war, it can’t very well return without having fought one. If it doesn’t find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we’ll lose sight of why it’s being fought in the first place.
My first reaction was: right on, look at the mess we’ve gotten into in Iraq. The thing is, though, the truth is even worse than this quote envisions. Yes, the war in Afghanistan didn’t end up finding our enemy; yes, the war in Iraq was manufactured. But the war in Iraq wasn’t manufactured in order to appease “folks back home” demanding a war: instead, Bush had his sights set on Iraq before September 11. There was never was a connection between the two: September 11 simply gave Bush an excuse to fight the war he really wanted.
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