I found it ironic when James Lileks yesterday referred to a cartoon by saying “when it gets political it’s just embarassing”. This pretty much sums up how I feel about Lileks’ Daily Bleats.
I love reading The Bleat. Lileks is a prolific and witty writer and his descriptive prose, as evidenced by today’s observations, is second to none. But when he gets political, he tends to get a little over-excited causing a subsequent dip in his style of writing and powers of reasoning.
In yesterday’s cartoon-related Bleat, Lileks commented on this cartoon:
“It wasn’t the drawing that impressed me, or the point it made, which was fatuous. It was the way in which a meme takes root and flowers. The BBC Jessica Lynch story + Robert Scheer’s ravings + the stories based on edited excerpts of the Wolfowitz interview = Bush Lied. That’s the New Truth. Bush Lied.”
And here’s how he counters this, in his mind, distorted worldview:
“Good job, editorial pages! Bravo, Auth! But one small point: I read today of another mass grave discovered in Iraq. This one was reserved for children.”
He’s missed the point completely. If mass graves for children and Saddam’s other countless atrocities had been given as the justification for going to war, he wouldn’t have to deal with uncomfortable questions in cartoon form or otherwise.
The very simple point that this cartoon is making is that we were lied to about the reasons why we went to war.
Of course, that prompts the question: is that such a bad thing if the outcome was ultimately positive? Doesn’t the end justify the means? Do the reasons matter?
On balance I believe that yes, they do.
Maciej Ceglowski pretty much sums up how I feel:
“Many people were against the idea of an Iraq invasion on any grounds. But I am especially angry because you could have sold me on this war. I would have supported a war in Iraq on the grounds of deposing a tyrant. The mass graves turning up in Iraq are for real… But the war was sold to us as the response to an immediate and catastrophic threat.”
Tim Bray has also been pondering this retroactive moral conundrum:
“One could construct an argument, based on a larger moral equation, that it’s on balance OK to fib to your population and the world if by so doing you achieve a greater moral good. But I just can’t get comfy with that.
Saddam got the payback he deserved. I’m not wise enough to figure out what payback the fabulists deserve, but I hope they get it.”
For the record… I supported the NATO action in Kosovo. I supported the war in Afghanistan. If the invasion of Iraq had been carried out for the right reasons, it might have had my support.
Reasons matter. Truth matters.