Much—if not all—of a person’s political views are influenced by Rational Choice Theory. This model of political behavior says that political development begins at the moment senses register any ideas from parents, teachers, friends, strangers, social groupings and/or the media. As time progresses toward any political decision, such as a vote or participation in a demonstration, the political evolution of your entire life—not information pulled and studied shortly beforehand—determines the nature of that political decision.

In English, very few people are consciously aware of politics. In fact, my
first lesson in Rational Choice Theory came a few years back when a college professor deemed that all political science majors are freaks. He instructed that normal
people make all their political decisions instinctively and, regardless of what a person does or doesn’t do, that choice was perfectly rational.

People understand that they should do their part and certainly attempt to be informed on issues, but political action, or inaction, is too deeply embedded to change in any dramatic way overnight. Now that you know where I’m coming from, let me tell you where I’m going:

One month ago, the average Iraqi could go to work and return home in peace. That average Iraqi, like the average American, probably didn’t spend one moment thinking about politics. That average Iraqi probably thought about getting food, gas, going to the local mosque or throwing a neighborhood get- together.

The US has no business involving itself in the invasion of Iraq or any other country regardless of that country’s leadership. The leadership is irrelevant.

People want to get on with what they have to do so that they can do what they want to do. People tend to want, first and foremost, to have a job so they can feed their families, raise their
children, and spend time with friends during whatever qualifies as their cultural equivalent of a barbecue. After those needs are satisfied, people typically want to be left to themselves or their tribe.

Almost sounds a bit conservative, doesn’t it?

Political Science, much to the chagrin of many of my brothers in arms, is a very conservative field. A conservative field in the Libertarian sense. Rational Choice Theory embodies the heart of the “stay out of my life” mantra that the Republicans like to preach—until there’s some black gold to steal,

To oppose this war, no matter if Saddam and every other corrupt regime in the Middle East gets
overthrown, isn’t just a liberal, leftist, socialist position. It’s also a conservative and even a capitalist position, as outlined in Milton Friedman’s book, Capitalism and Freedom. We should solve problems with money and example rather than the barrel of a gun.

We haven’t done very well in the “example” category and destroying the lives of the Iraqi people isn’t helping our argument. We have the money to make good things happen but it is also our psychological drug of choice. Beyond that, Americans like the concept of beating someone into the stone age.

War is an easy sell. Peace is boring.

It is entirely possible that many people agree with the motives for this war just because they think Tom Clancy is cool or so they can appear to be on the winning side of the debate, even if they have no idea where the debate begins.

The debate begins at the reasons for war. Saddam allegedly has weapons of mass destruction that haven’t been found after capturing two-thirds of Iraq. Saddam allegedly supports terrorist action of Islamic fundamentalists even though he has a proven track record of eating fundamentalists for breakfast.
Maybe neither weapons of mass destruction nor support for terrorism exist
within the borders of Iraq.

Now, the sobering reality is that the Iraqi people have no power, no water,
no safe haven from looters. 22-year-old lieutenants are being asked to show
wisdom beyond their years in dealing with Iraqi criminals.

Bush and Co. went into Iraq with lenses that filtered out what it didn’t want to see: history, ignorance, blind hatred of all authority not associated with violence or Allah. Our government sold us an idealistic vision of democracy in Iraq, yet with people fighting over filing cabinets and destroying irreplaceable Sumerian artifacts, it’s hard to believe democracy will happen
in this decade.

The Bush team knows this. All Iraq has at the moment is oil. The cause of democracy is a noble one and it is one U.S. troops never came to fight for.

In the absence of the political force that each individual developed under, Iraqis are behaving quite rationally.If Rational Choice Theory is correct and there’s no second chance to make a first impression, then the US will need two generations of Iraqis to turn the tide on the definition, function and role of government and citizenship. As it stands, the concepts of freedom, democracy and the institutions that serve them are abstract and unreal ideas to the average Iraqi. The problems facing the prospect of democracy in Iraq are so deep and profound and consuming that anything less than a successful transition will result in untold misery for the already miserable region of the Middle East.

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