Cripes! With the news media announcing victory over the hapless Iraqis, the right wingers and '"liberal hawks" are dancing in the aisles. Finally, we can start imposing liberal democracy over there at gunpoint! Yippee! (Just like we did in Afghanistan!) Evidently a war is considered successful, or a "cakewalk," if American casualties remain low. If at all possible, I'd like to spoil the party by mentioning that a lot of innocent Iraqis did die (and are still dying) horribly. After watching the newscasting insaniacs on Fox the other night (I tried to avoid it but a friend of mine had me over for dinner and watches it "ironically") I came home and made myself look at some of the pictures on the web of people mutilated and burned beyond recognition by our military--what Fox would never show us. I'd been avoiding this kind of material but after an intense dose of jingoistic shouting I suddenly felt the need to see what my tax dollars were paying for. I'm posting a link here; I'm not saying anyone else has an obligation to look. But in response to Nat Hentoff, an old-school liberal who smugly announced he "would not be marching" because we needed to make Saddie the Baddie our business (forget all the torturers in the "coalition of the willing"), and to all the "liberal hawks" enabling Bush & Co--when I look at these pictures, I can't get around the fact that Saddam didn't do this, we did.
I try to look at these pictures when I can. We're spending billions and dropping thousands of major munitions. On some of the more intense days, we've spent more than $500 M just on tomahawks. And now we're shooting at hotel buildings with tanks to take out snipers. Can we be far away from the Israeli example of using F-16's to take out individuals in crowed apartment buildings? Just one JDAM or tomahawk fired against an American city would set of a firestorm of public opinion to retaliate by dropping another thousand munitions on someone, somewhere. Yet to many Ameicans, Baghdad is just a video game.
All politics aside, who's right? who's wrong? it does seem that our methodology for removing this oh so bad man is rather sickening. I mean really sickening. And I haven't even looked at the pictures. And all those Pentagon spokespeople reminding us that war is bad but be patient because its all gonna be better is like a bad dream. Terrible bad.
I've been looking at such pictures too these past couple of weeks. I guess I think it's my duty as an American.
Hentoff's not being smug, he's coming at this thing from the position of human rights: Saddam is a murdering, raping tyrant who needs to be taken out. I admit to brief feelings of hope as I read the article that maybe Hentoff is right, maybe what we're doing over there is a good thing. Halfway through the article my views returned. "Oh yeah, America's history of regime change in the Middle-East isn't really very successful (TP-AJAX) and tends to breed animosity, many more stand to die due to our meddling, the PNAC wants to take over the world yadda yadda yadda.
I'm being hard on Hentoff (here's his essay) because this is a New World now--it's not Clinton time, when we had the luxury of debating what to do with our HUGE post-Cold War standing army: "I know--why don't we use it to stop tyrants and end massacres?" That's where the liberal hawk position emerges, and it's dated, dated, dated now that lib'rals have been purged from the government. The people running the show may talk "liberal democracy" but they're strictly Empire of Jesus. I know Hentoff is a caring soul, but he should be smart enough to see what's happening.
Great--the US prison population just passed 2 million. That's 1 out of every 142 people in jail. Probably half for "drugs." We really need to get our own human rights house in order before worrying about others'.
Also, Hentoff assumes that not participating in a protest is his choice to make: he might not realize how un-free we've become in that regard. Here's a report on the arrest of peaceful sidewalk demonstrators across the street from The Carlyle Group's offices on Apr. 7.
Hentoff has always been a great civil libertarian so I'm sure he realizes what's going on. He was one of the earliest and most passionate voices against Ashcroft's early manoeuvers IIRC.
I'm not sure how relevant the dilemmas of the Old Left are here. Very few marchers were looking to Baathist socialism as some kind of model government.
This was basically a private fight between Rumsfeld, Cheney et al and a former anti-Communist, anti-Iranian asset who got uppity, kind of like Noriega. The rest of us just got dragged into it. WMD, torture, all that, was just a pretext. (Our government likes torturers.)
I wasn't in the "containment is working" camp--sanctions were the Democrats' passive-aggressive answer and, like the war, they hurt ordinary Iraqis. Since Rumsfeld & Co. had old scores to settle, they should have just masterminded a coup--the kind of thing they do so well--instead of saddling Americans with two wars and a 51st state.
Obviously we disagree on the cost-benefit analysis of the war. A lot will depend on whether Bush uses his renewed popularity as a mandate to do more horrible stuff.
Here's a nice, suitably angry recap of how we made Saddam. Not sure it was necessary to kill thousands of Iraqis in order to unmake him (far more if you include deaths due to the sanctions), but one thing's clear at least; they've sufffered enough from our help.
Thank you Steve and Big Jimmy:
Smug, or a defense mechanism to keep from screaming. Not sure where I romanticized Arafat, other than to note that he was the Palestinians' elected leader. The slur against "New Yorkers," implying we're (i) all left-wing and (ii) anti-American, is not appreciated.
fess up, tom. ive got pictures of you selling i (heart) yassir t-shirts down by ground zero. if you love palestinians so much why dont you move to gaza.
I was wondering where all this Kofi Annan stuff was coming from at the time these last comments were posted--now I realize it's the latest ginned-up right wing talking point to deflect attention from Bush's screw up in Iraq. Here's Scott Ritter (who was right about the war, so we should listen to him) on the real oil for food scandal.