"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Iraq and the GOP crumble as the Dear Leaders' opponents mumble

I return from a short hiatus prompted by the ill health of a family member. As sad as the circumstances were, it was quite refreshing to spend time with family and forget, for a little while, about the troubles of the outside world.

Of course, the troubles remain. I heard a muttering amongst the media masses that President Bush had, this past week, come on out in mild agreement with Thomas Friedman's recent assessment that the recent upsurge in violence in Iraq bore striking resemblances to the Tet Offensive in Vietnam (which, for better or for worse, was the turning point of the war for us and something which the antiwar crowd has been desperately searching for a parallel). To any serious student of things like, oh, facts and history, the comparison is
laughingly ignorant. But it's been made, and now cautiously agreed with by the man who's supposed to be in charge of the war effort. I have long been disgusted with this administration's inability to wage an effective counter-propaganda campaign; clearly, they have no interest in hearing that message.

Though, while the facts on the ground over there don't bear out the analogy, those over here are hauntingly similar, and the jihadists know that. So I won't be suprised if we see a new video on YouTube with Islamists quoting the President's words while sawing off a head or two. Honestly, W., when are you going to start taking the concept of public relations seriously? If I hear one more speech with the same generalities about us-good/them-bad/stay-the-course, I might vomit all over my satellite receiver. Which will make me mad, because then I won't be able to DVR Lost or Heroes. Do not make me miss Lost, Mr. President, or my pregnant wife will crush you beneath her monstrously swollen feet.

Then there's the question of whether the President takes the war seriously. He says he does. Okay. He's even having a pow-wow in D.C. with some generals this weekend, a sign that perhaps he's taking it even more seriously. And, of course, he says we're not pulling any troops out until the mission is complete, which is one of the few phrases I don't get tired of hearing. But even though the constant sectarian violence in no way resembles the Tet Offensive, it is still highly disturbing, for many reasons. One: it proves that we still have not secured Iraq's borders, in spite of ample proof that
outside parties are actively perpetuating violence inside the country (read the rest of the article for a number of other administration/Republican sins. I know Frum mentions immigration, which reminds that, hell, if our leaders show no interest in securing our own borders, why should we secure those of a country thousands of miles away?). Two: the fact that Baghdad is no safer today than it was in 2003 is unacceptable. If we can't secure the seat of government, how are we going to prove to ordinary Iraqis that we can provide security for the rest of the country? And I have a third thought: if those same ordinary Iraqis can't find it in themselves to refrain from slaughtering their neighbors, why should we put ourselves in harm's way for them?

I cross into scary territory here, I know. I still believe that the Middle East will never catch up with the rest of the world until it embraces representative government and casts aside tribalism. I believe that a world without Saddam Hussein is better than one with him. And WMDs or not, Saddam's Iraq had consistently flouted the international law that so many nations claim to hold dear, murdered innocents within and without his borders, and promoted terrorism, perhaps not with al-Qaeda, but certainly with any number of anti-Israeli groups. I believe our invasion of Iraq gave Iraqis, and the Middle East as a whole, a chance to leap forward and embrace a brighter world. And after all these years, their collective response seems to be: screw you. We'd rather kill each other.

Because it's each other they're killing in great fistfulls every day, not us. Oh, some of the jihadis still blow up our troops, but it's not our boys who died by tens and twenties. It's Iraqis. That we made some serious strategic and tactical mistakes during our occupation is not a matter of debate, but in spite of that, we were able to organize several successful elections that promised Iraq a free future. But they don't seem to want that future. Iraqi policemen would rather kill those who aren't part of their Islamic sect than protect all innocent people and enforce law and order. Sunni insurgents damn the future of their own children for the chance to kill those of their enemies. And I'm starting to wonder: why should we care? Why should we risk the futures of our own young men and women for a people who don't give a rat's ass about theirs?

Maybe it's time, as
Jonah Goldberg argues, to hold one more election, the Mother of All Elections, with one question: should we stay, or should we go? And the fine print must be made very clear, to all parties. If you want us to stay, our lazy leaders will get off their asses and supply overwhelming military support to pacify the country and reconstruct it like nobody's business, and your lazy leaders will stop jockeying for power, crack down on thugs like al-Sadr, and get off their asses to build a better country for everyone. You and us, together, will deliver one warning, and one warning only to Iran and Syria: stop messing around inside here, or we'll show you, up close and personal, what a mushroom cloud looks like. If you pledge yourselves to a future, then we will pledge our lives and fortune to help you secure it, because that's what America will always be willing to fight for.

And if you tell us to go, then you admit that violence and revenge are more important to you than peace and prosperity. We will go, and you will have no one to blame but yourselves for throwing aside a chance at something better. Kill and maim and bomb each other to your heart's content: we will not referee you and risk the lives of our best citizens while doing so. If, in the future, you decide that you want a future, we will come back and help you get on your feet, because Americans believe in second chances. Until then, you're on your own. If your bloodthirstiness starts spilling over and threatening our interests in the region, we'll come back, but only to smack you down enough that you don't bother us anymore. In the meantime, we'll keep helping the Kurds, because they care more about a good life than a martyr's death. Perhaps some day you'll want what they have. Peace out, you ungrateful barbarians.

Wow, so that's a tangent I didn't plan to get off on. Leaves me almost no room to talk about North Korea. So, actually, I won't. I'll let the keyboard cool off a bit and come back to it. Peace out.

1 comment:

The Grace Messenger said...

I agree with you on many points and remember that one of our founders said "democracy will only work with a moral and religious society." One foundation of the Muslim faith is that Moses tried to bring righteousness by the law and failed; Jesus tried to bring righteousness by grace and failed; but Mohammed will establish righteousness with the sword.
Now it is no wonder that they will kill each other off as scripture says "There is none righteous, no not one, they are altogether gone astray, there is none that seeks after God." Grace allows us all to seek after God and perhaps to find him and, as the job is really too big, I have learned that He finds us and reveals himself to us and we need only to believe and he gives us eternal life. That is a better plan than the sword.

As for the mushroom cloud, I had thought the same thing but we should rather, send a missle into the leaders window, as we can now, and let the survivors sort out the government by themselves, with our help, if they want it. I suppose the next guy will have some respect for us since we are not, nor have ever been, imperialistic.