Yes, it has changed my opinions. I'm relieved more Americans didn't die. But the feelings that I am left with make me sad for America.
First, although I have never seen a connection between September 11th and Iraq, the majority of US citizens bought the president's line that there was one. Never before have I thought that Americans could be so easily fooled by their leaders.
Second, I used to think that a "free press" was one of the pillars of our society, the one that would keep American's eyes open in the face of official propaganda. But the coverage I saw of the Iraq invasion has me convinced that either much of the press only wants to say what sells, or that it was just too much trouble for the US press corps to dig for real news. Either way, it looked like money was driving the coverage decisions, rather than the philosophy of telling it "like it is."
When I studied political theory in college, I laughed like everyone else did at Plato's philosophy that democracy was bad. He felt it should be scorned because of its tendency toward the elevation of demagogues over leaders who spoke unpopular truths. But these days, I wonder if instead of being a democracy, the United States is really a plutocracy: a nation ruled by the rich. Plato said that democracy always degraded into "kakistocracy," rule by the worst, and with the rise of an administration whose primary focus is finding new ways to funnel public money into big corporations, I'm afraid rule by the worst is what America now has.
The cool thing is that some of the big media outlets are squeaking a little about the State of the Nation. Paul Krugman noticed "For the overwhelming political lesson of the last year is that war works — that is, it's an excellent cover for the Republican Party's domestic political agenda. In fact, war works in two ways. The public rallies around the flag, which means the President and his party; and the public's attention is diverted from other issues. Yay that I'm not the ONLY PERSON IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY that's made that logical leap, although most days it feels like I am.
Another guy actually pointed out that a new cookin' the books attempt by the Congressional Budget office to show that tax cuts don't mean bigger deficit thanks to the miracles of Voodoo Economics still didn't work, even after they tried five different way to jimmy the numbers. Now, that was cool. Is Bush really as dumb as I think he is, or is there any chance that he'll actually look at this report and go, huh, I guess I was wrong? (Sorry, I should have warned you not to drink before you read this entry! The bubbles hurt when they go out your nose, don't they?)