My remarks on the late Don Rumsfeld sparked a set of responses that evolved into discussing the cause of the Second Gulf War. It may be worth a little time to wonder if such explanations are of any value.
A specific act of aggresssion is rarely triggered by a single incident, whether it is the sinking of the Lusiannia or the battleship Maine or the firing on Ft Sumter or the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo. Bush II, like other recent Presidents, was looking for a pretext, to help Bush family allies in the oil business, to gain glory, and perhaps even to get revenge for his father.
If a large number of Americans were upset by the death of a few thousand strangers, it is a sign of their foolish naivete--the result of many generations of brainwashing. No one seems especially disturbed by our annual highway death toll of 38,000, much less by the deaths of perhaps millions of Iraqis during two wars and an embargo. A dog you know and love means more to you than a million abstract strangers. No matter how often we beat our breasts for the victims of 911 or Hiroshima or Dresden, of Fort. Pillow or the victims of slavery, we usually manage to proceed with our dinner plans and our sports events..
No one in that administration seems to have thought through their policy, and Bush I told #II not to do it, unless he met certain preconditions--such as solid support among allies--which he did not.
The search for single causes of events is, alas, the hallmark of the modern American mind. Small wonder that we are so prone to fall for conspiracy theories, whether racialist, religious, or the monster from Jekyl Island. Perhaps one influence on this are the simplistic mysteries and thrillers we read and watch. (Or perhaps we like mysteries because of our simplified minds.)
It is interesting to contrast an Hercule Poirot or Perry Mason story with the first great piece of detective fiction, Sophocles' Oedipus. Simple-minded moderns--the wort of which are English professors--like to say the hero is a victim of fate. One of them even told me once that Chesterton was the source of this mistake, even though GKC said the opposite. The play initially has the hero embarking on the search for a murderer, only to find out that he is the guilty one. It his very self-reliant confidence about finding the truth that is his great sin.
The wisest author of a detective novel, Carlo Emilio Gadda is the rare exception. Here is his characterization of his detective, Comissario Ingrivallo:
"He sustained among other things that unforeseen catastrophes are never the consequence or the effect, if you prefer, of a single motive, of a cause singular, but they are rather like a whirlpool, a cyclonic point of depression in the consciousness of the world, toward which a whole multitude of converging causes have contributed."
Gadda's novel, Quer brutto pasticcccio a Via Merulana, is virtually impossible to translate, because of the multiple dialects used, but William Weaver did a competent job by ignoring the dialects, but in an America divided between the BLM and JBS conspiracy mindsets, don't hold your breath wating for a Quentin Tarantino move based on the Gadda novel.
As postscript, the simplifying heresy is rife among historians. Lately I've been rereading Procopius, and while he is much too prone to ascribe events to the power of Fortune, his brilliant narrative and his portraits of the personalities involved--the great general Belisarius, Constantinus who tries to kill him, the very competent but envious eunuch Narses, the Gothic king Witigis--allow the reader to get into the story and draw his own conclusions. The complexity and depth of his understanding does not reappear in historical writing for about 1000 years and then only among Byzantine and Italians. Too many Medieval chroniclers see history as a morality play in which God rewards the good and punishes the faithless. Interestingly, Procopius' immediate successor, Agathias, who admires the great historian but takes exception to his view of fate, also says he will never ascribe evil to the author.