Sunday, March 17, 2013

bastard son of the iraq war

this week is the tenth anniversary of the american invasion of iraq. no doubt there will be a bunch of retrospectives this week. i can't believe it's been ten years already. but at the same time, the period leading up to the war seems like it was a million years ago.

i wonder if this blog would exist if the iraq war had not happened. i was aware of  blogs for several years before the run up to the war. my old friend sarah had a (now defunct) blog called "fiendish plot" where she would post her own personal musings. i learned about political blogs at some point in 2002 when the new york times published a letter i wrote and i googled my name shortly afterwards. that led me to a bunch of rightwing blogs mocking my letter, and one liberal blog quoting it approvingly. the first political blog i read on a regular basis was tom tomorrow's blog (which still exists, but doesn't post as often as it used to), which i found by a url printed in the margin of one of the "this modern world" comics. tom's blogroll and in-post links led me to greater left blogistan, such as it was in late 2002.

but i was just a casual reader. what really sucked me into the political blog world were the months immediately preceding the iraq war. the pre-war mania seemed ridiculous beyond belief. the reasons for invading were so transparent, and shifted from one moment to the next. i honestly couldn't believe it was actually happening and that mainstream political commentators were taking this stuff seriously. i mean, who was i? just some young labor lawyer, with an amateur interest in the middle east and who had been trying on-and-off to study arabic as a hobby. i was far from an expert and yet, i regularly saw politicians and journalists report as true things that were obviously false with no correction (like the saddam-bin laden alliance, which only made sense if you had no fucking clue about the political landscape of the arab world). it felt like the world had gone mad. and people, real people, were going to die just because my country had gone off the deep end.

liberal blogs were the only place i could read about politics that weren't gripped by the madness. they were totally ineffective, unfortunately. by that i mean that, for all the blog triumphalism that had been in vogue at various points over the past decade, it was still obvious that they weren't going to stop the march to war any more than the keyboard kommandos were going to win it for freedom. but it was comforting to see that i wasn't the only one to think the country had lost its collective mind.

once i was sucked into reading those blogs, it was only a matter of time before i felt like writing my own. and this site was officially born at the beginning of june 2003. actually, i claimed a month or so before that. it sat for a little while as a template with no posts as i tried to figure out what i wanted to do with this place (which is what my first post refers to). bloggy, that liberal blog that quoted my letter approvingly months before, was the first site to link to me. then this blog pretty much went downhill from there. but it is still here. an awful lot of sites from those early days are not.

if the iraq war madness had not taken over the country, i don't know if i would have become such a political blog addict. and if i hadn't become an addict, i doubt if i would have ever started this site.  this is the 5,914th post on this blog. think of what i could have accomplished had i not wasted all that time? so fuck you, george w. bush.