Across the political spectrum, pundits, politicians, cartoonists and commentators of all sorts have expressed disbelief that the architects of the Iraq War can continue to defend the war and their actions in the manner they do. The original reasons set forth as the reasons for the invasion have been discredited. The conduct of the war has been, at best, poorly planned. Now, in the face of increasing chaos, they insist things are getting better and victory is just ahead. It would seem that incompetence reigns supreme and ineptness is the least pejorative that can be applied to this strange trio. Do not believe it.
What happens when we take our focus off these happy warriors and examine the war itself? We see chaos. Governance, social structure, economy, education, and even religion are all fragmented. Many thoughtful people have laid this at the door of gross incompetence. Despite the denials of mistakes, there has been no stout defense of competence anywhere. Why? Incompetence in planning and executing this war is the distraction and use of the audience's map of the territory that is hiding what is going on before the eyes of American public. What is being planted in Iraq is not democracy but chaos.
Chaos theory is an out growth of general systems theory. It postulates that randomness is necessary in any system for any self-organizing phenomena to occur within that system. As a child, I was fascinated by what happened when I tampered with an ant hill by poking a stick in the opening or leveling the hill. I produced chaos. However, in a short time the ants would stop scurrying about and a new structure would appear and the ants would return to "routine". The self ordering out of chaos would occur without any input from any one source. It appeared to happen. Could Iraq be our ant hill? Try selling that to the American public! Incompetence can be overlooked, but not the deliberate creation of chaos. The map of reality held by the American people is that stability is good and the future is assured by stability. With the illusion of stability being impossible to sustain, how about creating the illusion of incompetence? In order to underscore the ineptness facade, fail to respond adequately to a domestic catastrophe such as happened to New Orleans.
The emerging order and ensuing structure that comes out of the Iraq intervention, despite the rhetorical spin, may be of little concern to the interveners. Systems consist of systems and are themselves components of larger systems. Any change in Iraq is going to have unpredictable effects in a vast web of interconnectedness. The purposefulness of any behavior does not assure its predicted consequences. The more complex the system becomes, prediction is reduced to randomness. The questions being asked about the Iraq War may be all the wrong ones. Keeping them center stage, however, keeps the right ones from being asked.
The nation-state with clearly defined and well guarded boundaries is a fast fading structure. What appear to be emerging are economic spheres with more fluid limits. Uncertainty and risk are replacing stability and guaranteed protections as we see in the demise of job security and well-being in retirement. Chaos has come to America and no one can predict what will be the results of its self ordering.
It takes brains, nimbleness, and creativity to be a magician on the world stage. Believable incompetence as an illusion enhancing facade is the height of competence. However, that kind of competence wedded to doctrinaire self-righteousness or the will to power is the content of our worst fears. Like the heroes of our contemporary myths, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, it is time to exercise the courage to step behind the illusion to see if it be for good or evil.
Dr. Ron Cebik is a retired psychotherapist living in Connecticut. A progressive neuro-muscular disease has limited his mobility and speech and so he communicates his unconventional thoughts on the conventional primarily through the internet.