John Reeve

Musician, Artist, Technologist


“First Iraq then France”

“First Iraq then France”

From a hackernews post, asking about the first hand experience of realizing the “facts” that led up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq were fake:

i was wondering about the firsthand experience of realizing it’s all fake in the many years after 9/11.

especially from educated professionals and financially well doing professionals.

i only know working class accounts

Anyhow, here is a response I wrote:

As someone who protested the 2003 war while living in Texas, what you’re wanting to hear about never happened.

A lot of us at the time knew the run up to the war was bullshit because it was logically incoherent, which is an easy metric for that kind of thing. So on the anti-war side we never generally had a moment of “it’s all fake”- we knew it was fake.

At best we had moments of “all these assholes who made me question if I was dumb /immature /irrational /misinformed were clearly incorrect”. If you’re around enough folks who think you’re an insane idiot, eventually you question yourself. But since we on the anti-war left were wholly correct on so many counts it’s been helpful to have some occasional reckonings- the folks running the US have not gotten “more correct” and the voices who shout down those of us who question it haven’t gotten quieter; this experience has been useful to remember when I feel dumb for my political dissent.

On the pro-war side what you’re looking for did not happen.

In my experience, none of the people who were pro-war in 2003 ever really experienced a realization around how fake and wrong all of that was.

Most I have asked about their thoughts seem to think one of two things.

One subgroup is convinced that “knowing what they knew at the time” they were correct. It’s easy to fudge a bunch of facts to make that feel like an okay position, even if it’s just wrong. This seems like a fairly normal way that peoples’ brains work, so the best I can say is that they are just normal folks doing normal folk stuff. As I understand it this is the general Democratic party line.

The best I can manage with the other subgroup of folks is a metaphor.

We used to have to set our clocks forward and so people were conscious of time changes. At some point, most of us rely on phones, and as such the time changes happen but are only noticeable when we see that the clock on the stove needs to be adjusted.

At some point around 2012 a group of folks woke up thinking that they’d always known that the Iraq war stuff was all fake. That just became the “received opinion” and their thoughts from 2003 were all so murky, no need to look into anything, But, of course, US foreign interactions were probably well motivated and just so why would all that stuff from a decade ago matter, and besides that war criminal Bush was out of office (but was he really a war criminal? these folks might disagree with such strong wording).

Anyhow, that’s my view as a 45-year-old on-the-fringe-of-the-Professional-Managerial-Class worker in tech and education: no pro-war adults in the PMC who I know had an experience of learning that they were wrong.

Share this post