One of the most annoying aspects of “debates” over the war in Iraq is how people seem to reject all rationality in exchange for unbridled emotion. Perhaps global issues are complicated, but the most basic understanding of conflict resolution should steer us in different directions. For example, what would most parents do if their child was bullied on the playground? Would they randomly punish a child without any advice of wrongdoing?
In A Child’s Guide To United States Foreign Policy, a question-and-answer format is used to illustrate the difficulty of explaining the actions of the United States in recent years. Here’s the conclusion:
Q: Why? [regarding the reasons for war]
A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America. Also, since God is on America’s side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?
Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?
Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?
A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.
Q: So basically, what you’re saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?
A: Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.
What’s most striking to me is that these “childish” questions are ones that I encounter very often when talking to people about the war in Iraq. They don’t stand up to any level of reason, but still they’re used to cast the illusion of controversy. The bottom line is that there is no rationale for these actions, and we’d all be better off admitting it. Perhaps we should have a new rule of thumb: If you can’t explain it to a child, you probably shouldn’t support it.