Being sure about anything (or everything, for some people) is surely comfortable. It is certainly easier and reduces the stress, sweat, effort and honest detail work of honest thinking, freeing up the mind for … being sure. Wendell Berry’s observation that the mind that is not baffled is not employed has come to mind (sic) recently in connection with both public and personal contemplations of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War. Ten years ago many people in America were sure that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Today there are far fewer but still too many Americans who are sure the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do.
The sureness of the many of yesteryear and the few of today is baffling to the employed mind, but it surely adds a new dimension to discussions about unemployment in America. The unimpeded stream is a ditch, a canal, a Keystone pipeline to a sure destination, but it does not sing. The ditch/narrow canal/pipeline thinking of men like “Heck-of-a-job” George W. Bush, Halliburton Dick Cheney, “absence-of-evidence” Donald Rumsfeld, “greeted-as-liberator” Paul Wolfowitz and others about Iraq, pipelines and other sure subjects is too well known to need repeating here, but these men are sure of their decisions. As examples of humanity, not to mention world leadership, these men sure enough baffle even the hard-core mental welfare queens.
To be fair to the architects of the Iraq War and their supporters, if such a thing is possible, if they were truly misinformed about the reasons to start that war then they were only mistaken or deluded, not sure. If that was the case, then they were simply too inept and incompetent to hold their positions of trust, authority, responsibility and power. It illustrates the obvious connection between being sure and being deluded. This connection is evident in every ideologue, true believer, sycophant, crusader, politician, evangelist and apocalypse zealot who ever said, “I’m sure.” One of the best spokesmen for this approach to life was Rep. Earl Landgrebe (R-Indiana) who during the Watergate hearings in 1974 (in)famously said, “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up.”
Facts are often impediments to being sure. They tend to confuse sure things.
If, as many people (including me) believe, Cheney and his lackeys weren’t misinformed at all and were lying to the world in order to garner support and camouflage the issues for a war that should never have been, then they are, at best, morally deceitful and, at worst, war criminals. One of their apologists, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, wrote in 2003, “As far as I am concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war. … Mr. Bush doesn’t owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue).”
“Hyped” is bootlicker for “lied.”
This is old stuff and many people are tired of hearing about it. Time to move on to something more current and meaningful to Americans today. But one of the recurring lessons of history is, in the words of Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
And a recent Gallup poll determined that a majority of 18- to 29-year-old Americans believe the Vietnam War was not a mistake, while 70 percent of those over 50 believe it was a mistake. Those under 29 have forgotten or never learned the lessons of that part of history. Forgetting and not learning are both allies of being sure. Robert Scheer wrote of the larger significance of this poll: “That the young now approve of an irrational conflict in which 3.4 million Indochinese and 58,000 Americans died suggests that even the madness that was Iraq will come to be viewed by this fatally jingoistic nation as a good war.”
Jingoists are never baffled by inconvenient facts that interfere with being sure.