Monday, March 17, 2008

Harris' Four untruths about the war: Major Koolaid

Think of the last time you almost got into a fight. Think about what you were feeling at the time, the urge to do violence, the fear of reprisal, and arrest, the anger at whatever the other person had done or said. And yet, for most of us, a part of our brain evaluates the situation, does a rough value calculation of the various possibilities, and concludes that the best option is to walk away, even though our emotions are saying very different things. Yet there are some so violence-prone, so unable to see any solution to the situation other than bashing the other guys head in, that they would call you a coward for walking away. To them, there is no reasoned resistance to fighting. All who oppose the violent option are yellow, per se, and any argument to the contrary is just so much rationalizing.

After reading this article from Phil Harris, I can’t help but conclude he is such a person. Unfortunately, he represents too many on the hawkish side of the Iraq war. Unable to deal with what those of us who are against the Iraq war actually think, he invents yellow straw men that are easier to knock down. And as if to completely thumb his nose at rational discourse, he calls his responses to these scarecrows “truths”, as if they are beyond reproach. Far from it:

Truth #1: There has never been a war that “feels right.” War is hell, and the day we find ourselves in a war that we “want” to be in, is a day I never want to see.

No shit Phil. If you think people who object to the war do so because it doesn’t fill us with feelings of joy, you are either not listening, or need to get out more. Just who out there do you hear saying this, because I’ve never heard it. Further, the joke about this war is that most Americans don’t feel much at all from it because it is such a minor part of our lives. The soldiers and their families know how the war feels to them. To the rest of us, it is just something on the news that costs us a lot of money and produces little of value in return. Forgive us for not feeling right about that.

Truth #2: There has never been a war that has not required sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, mothers, fathers, co-workers, friends, and neighbors to be in danger of dying or being horribly wounded. The fact that we all know someone who has been to Iraq once or twice or three times is not a reason to say that we should not be there, or that we should never have gone in the first place.

Again Phil, no shit. It’s the fact that this war has turned into a long term engagement requiring massive sacrifices from our bold but limited military despite the assurances from those responsible that it would require little time or resources to accomplish. Fool me once Phil… After so much of our military valor has been wasted, at a time when suicide rates among soldiers is at an all time high, you’re damned right we are going to question the wisdom of our current course after we see our soldiers doing more tours than they are physically and psychologically equipped for. The reward for such an engagement had better be damned high. Just because war necessitates loss of life and property doesn’t mean we don’t do what we can to minimize both, and to spend them only when the payoff is great.

Truth #3: President Bush did not invent war. America has engaged in twelve conflicts since 1775 that could be recognized by the average citizen as a “war.” In that time, America has lost 656,041 military personnel in battle. Another 15,267 have died in-theater, but due to circumstances other than battle. Some 525,930 died while serving, but not in-theater. There have been 1,498,930 military personnel that have suffered non-mortal wounds. As painful and heartbreaking as it is, the Iraq/Afghanistan actions have been undertaken with an astoundingly low number of casualties, both dead and wounded.

Ah, a trifecta of MSU. Sorry Phil, nobody is saying President Bush invented war. That is yet another fiction you choose to attack rather than the reality that he essentially invented preemptive war based on faulty intelligence leading to a predictable conflict for which we had little preparation and no long term plan. And no, the pollyannish notion that Iraq would suddenly embrace democracy under a unified government doesn’t qualify as a plan. Unlike many of those prior conflicts, President Bush’s war is accomplishing very little, and costing a record amount. And while you may find solace in the fact that medical advances have allowed us to reduce the number of fighting men who die from their wounds by orders of magnitude (recall that we didn’t have antibiotics until near the end of WWII) compared to conflicts from centuries ago, some of us think the bar ought to be placed a bit higher.

Truth #4: Our actions in Iraq have caused a severe disruption to Osama bin-Laden’s al-Qaeda terror network, and their ability to organize and carry out more attacks on the United States and Israel. The war on terror cannot be fought and/or won in Afghanistan. Killing Osama bin-Laden would be gratifying, but would have little effect on ending the threat of continued terrorism aimed at Americans.

What a steaming pile of made up shit. A congressional report has just come out that shows, with no surprise for most of us, that there was no, nada, zero, zilch relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda in Iraq essentially didn’t exist prior to Bush’s war, and that war continues to inflame sensibilities in the Middle East and create even more terrorists. It’s this myopic, dare I say it, faith-based view of this conflict espoused by people like Phil Harris that needs a dose of truth. They simply will not, based on any facts or logic, dispense with the notion of victory in the Middle East through military aggression. And they are not afraid to bankrupt our government and waste the lives of our brave men and women in uniform in pursuing that crusade.

No comments: