The great tragedy of war
I am profoundly troubled by the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. I look into the faces of the fallen, and wonder how their lives might have been different--how their families might have been saved from the pain and difficulty of moving on without a brother or sister, son or daughter, father or mother, and in the worst of cases, without a husband or wife, especially when they leave behind children.
I don't accept the casual statement that a soldier "died for a good cause," or worse, that a soldier "went out the way he'd want to." What a lucky guy (or gal). We should all be so lucky as to be cut down in our primes, leaving behind loved ones and dependants to fend for themselves.
Of course, then there's the classic phrase that "freedom isn't free." Well, you know what, a lot of the freedoms we enjoy have nothing to do with picking up a gun and kicking around a third world country. A lot of freedoms were earned the hard way, by marching in the streets with a sign, or riding freedom buses, or re-taking control of our neighborhoods from drug dealers. In fact, we earn our freedom every time we go to the ballot box, and yet, tens of millions of Americans neglect that critical freedom, without which our democracy cannot function as it should.
We have to apply our diplomatic resources better. I mean, Iraq is not Nazi Germany, or Hirohito's Japan. Those were good causes, because the stakes were global, and the free world was positively threatened. Terrorists do not threaten our freedoms. They threaten us in comparatively miniscule ways. I don't mean to diminish the tragedy of September 11th. I just question the Bush Administration approach to winning this struggle by invading Iraq.
Invade Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda training camps and dismantle the Taliban regime? Yes. Invade Iraq to find WMD, using cherry-picked intelligence that was questioned even before the war, and to privatize Iraqi industries for the benefit of U.S. corporations? No! I think a lot of Americans would use car bombs against occupiers too if we were invaded by--oh, let's just pick France for the sake of argument--and the French military proclaimed that all our businesses were now going to be run by French companies...and, by the way, we were all fired because contractors were taking our jobs.
The fight against terrorism can't be won by pissing off the entire Islamic world. We need to offer a better relationship--a relationship not tainted by the sense that we want control over a country's natural resources. As Pat Buchanan says--and he's certainly no friend of the left--invading countries like Iraq is not the solution. Invading countries is the problem, and that's the cause of terrorism.
Osama bin Laden doesn't hate our freedoms, he hates that the United States supports dictatorial regimes that suppress freedom. Now, Osama bin Laden may not want freedom for everyone--he wants freedom to install fundamentalist authoritarian regimes which would disallow everyone else's freedoms. Nevertheless, we should not delude ourselves about what our mission is in the world, and how we should peacefully fulfill that mission. We need to drain the swamp that breeds terrorism, not create a swamp that bogs down our soldiers in an unwinnable quaqmire.
Yeah, I know, some people say we have to "finish the job" in Iraq. Really? I'm not so sure about that. There were no weapons of mass destruction. I repeat, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The United Nations succeeded in destroying Saddam Hussein's weapons ambitions. Of course, we knew that before the invasion. I get the sense that we only have to finish the job so that U.S. corporations can make their money. Is that what American soldiers are dying for now?
The great tragedy of war is that those who don't survive never have the opportunity to see how their lives and families would have turned out. They never have the opportunity to say whether it truly was a cause worth dying for, after the fact of their deaths, although the living sure feel free to speak for them.
If you feel as I do, you should see the photo essay, Death of a Responsible Man. Oh hell, you should see it especially if you don't agree with me.