The meme that supporters of peace are hopelessly “naive” has been pounded into our heads so many times that most people never bother to question it. They should. Like many bits of supposedly conventional wisdom that the media saturates us with, this one is not only false, but it’s a one-hundred percent inversion of the truth. It’s the hawks who are hopelessly naive, while the doves possess suitable cynicism to accurately predict human behavior.
The Iraq War is one of many perfect examples. The general hawk position was that turning Iraq into a safe, stable democracy would be quite easy. Hence some bad predictions such as:
“I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” - Donald Rumsfeld.
Obviously I could list many more failed prophecies, but that’s not the point of my post. The point is to get to the root of what led to this mistaken thinking. The root of the problem is simple. Those who advocated a “war of liberation” did not have a realistic view of how the Iraqi people would respond to the presense of American troops and a government established by the American military by force. They believed that we’d establish a government like this, and that it would get total, or almost total, support from the Iraqi people. Here, again, is Rumsfeld explaining what we can expect from the Iraqi people:
“They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that’s what’s going to happen here.” (cite )
That sort of talk just doesn’t account for the true nature of the human race. There’s no reason why an entire population would walk happily into the arms of a government established by foreigners and agree to accept it without disagreement, not in any circumstances. And certainly not in these circumstances, where most of the population in question is primitive religious fanatics. If you have people who are raised to believe that their religion is not compatible with democracy, then they won’t accept it just because of a few pretty speeches. It’s simple logic that they’d end up shooting falafel dealers, but hawks just didn’t do the logic.
Of course, hawks on our own board also expressed rather ridiculous idealism:
“So far, the only real resistance the coalition forces are getting are either from the republican guard, or solders forced to fight, because their wives and children are being held at gunpoint.”
This line that the only people resisting the Americans were old soldiers from Saddam’s army, rather than Shi’ite and Sunni militias trying to grab power, was touted by the hawks for more than a year. Yet it never reflected reality.
Some other people did:
“Post-war Iraq, with or without US occupation (sorry, liberation), the remaining factions will fight violently with each other. … Iraq has three major ethnic groups, forced to live together under borders drawn by colonialists. We’ll be damn lucky if Iraq looks anywhere near as good as Afghanistan (and not that Afghanistan looks that great).”
“We’ll leave a comparitively small peacekeeping force, but it won’t be sufficient to actually control the entire country, and meanwhile there will be constant skirmishes with hostile forces.”
And of course it was a mere two weeks after the war started that Collonsbury told us this about Iraqi sentiments:
So who, truly, is the more naive?