Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cutting through some confusion

William F. Buckley seems confused. Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

I have another suggestion. It's a crazy idea, okay, but let's just take a look at it.

Maybe, just maybe, the problem is that war is really, really nasty.

Yes, I know... bombs and bullets are nasty, the very idea screams "bleeding heart liberal", doesn't it? But bear with me.

Do you remember the attacks on September 11th, 2001? Do you remember how our nation reeled from those attacks, what a terrible impact they had on us? Three thousand people, gone in an act of hatred.

Well, that should give you some perspective. The war in Iraq has cost ten times as many people - thirty thousand civilians are believed to have died because of it. Iraq's population is about one tenth of the United States' population. So, in the number of people killed, the effects could reasonably be expected to be one hundred times worse. Do you know someone who died in the 9/11 attacks? Or do you only know someone, who knew someone? Or is the distance even greater than that?

You can still grieve, even if you didn't know someone, but grieving hits a bit closer to home, the closer the death was to you. In Iraq, the deaths are much, much closer.

Maybe they're not really happy with that? I'm just saying; I know it's a silly thing to talk about, but killing their family members, friends, and neighbors, maybe that really pisses them off?

Then there's the continuing occupation, the continuing fighting, and the continuing danger. There's the troubles that keep oil production and electricity generation worse than they were pre-invasion. (Yes, that's right... close to three years after the invasion, they're pumping less oil and generating less electricity than they were before the invasion.)

Maybe, after all those people have died (and remember, that's just the civilians; we're not counting the Iraqi soldiers who were defending their home), and things don't really seem all that much better, maybe that makes them even more upset?

Maybe the problem isn't that we had this love of democracy, and maybe the problem wasn't that we wanted to spread the blessings of liberty... but maybe the problem was that we chose one incredibly stupid and incredibly dangerous way to try to spread these things. Does anyone in Buckley's camp want to think about that? That maybe bombing the holy hell out of a nation, maybe killing tens of thousands of its citizens, maybe conquering that nation and ruling it in an inept manner for over a year, maybe all of those things add up, and make them upset with us?

Like I said, it's a crazy idea: hurting people is bad, and it might upset them, even if you claim you're doing it for their own good. But maybe it's just crazy enough to be sensible, if you look at it right.

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