Saturday, May 15, 2004

From Belle du Jour:

The papers are full of disturbing images, the sort that lead one to think about politics, war, and the politics of war, and how these acts have always happened except we could never see them before. How righteous indignation and backlash sometimes seem products of ignorance, because who could not have guessed this would happen? Did we really need pictures in order to know? Are we truly angry at governments for doing what we knew they would do?

The sad truth is, the whole war was justified as a humanitarian intervention. The people who started this war believed--or told us to believe--that we would be greeted as liberators and the operation would be quick and easy and we would move on to other fronts in the War on Terror. You know and I know that war is terrible and savage, and should thus be a last resort; but many Americans (hey, wait, you hail from Britain, you guys already know all this; have you gotten rid of Blair yet?) still need reminders of what happens when human beings devolve into monsters by their circumstances.

When I look at the Iraqis who say they don't hate Americans, they just need to defend their homeland from those who would occupy it, and then I look at the Americans who say they don't hate Iraqis, they just need to defend themselves from those who would attack them, I have to wonder who started this mess, and the truth is, we did. We all did. In a democracy, we are all soveriegn, we are all leaders, and leaders take the blame.

If we are to go to war, then we need to see, every day, every gruesome detail of what's going on down there, because our elected officials voted for the war and by proxy it is our fault; but if it is a just war, that's all okay, because we know the cost would be worth it. If we cannot stomach what is happening down there, perhaps we should reexamine our priorities.

(and Belle is correct; prisoner abuse is nothing new. If we don't know about it, though, we cannot do anything about it; and this being a democracy, it is our duty to do something about it. Like, for instance, vote. For instance, if you have not registered to vote [and by "register to vote" I assure you I do not mean "vote for Kerry;" vote for Bush if you want, what's important to me is that everyone's voice is heard in this election], you can do so here.)


Vietnam, by the way, had its public support largely brought down by pictures coming back from Vietnam; very specific pictures that are too horrifying to mention here (Vietnam is over, but we _shoulda_ learned our lesson). When Americans saw the coffins of fallen soldiers being shipped back to the US, public support waned; so the Bush administration, ever prepared for battle as usual, banned taking pictures of coffins (even though some beautiful, patriotic coffin pictures slipped under the radar; who'da thunk). When Bush visited Iraq to share a plastic turkey with the soldiers, members of the press were with him in the plane; but officials covered the windows as the plane flew over Iraq. This administration is determined to hide from us the true horrors of what is happening down there.

But if it's a just war, who cares about its horrors? We toppled the government, right? We got Saddam, right?


Remember, as far as war goes, we've won. As far as peace goes, we're getting our asses kicked.
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