micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Saturday, March 20, 2004
Happy Birthday OIF
Although it goes against the cynicism I stand for, I participated in demo against "the war" today. I carried a sign reading:
Continue the Occupation!A few people were puzzled by this sign but generally their sentiments could be summed up by the young, or perhaps old, person who said, "well at least he is anybody but Bush."
It has been a year, more or less, since Operation Iraqi Freedom began and, as Homer Simpson would say, "if [cable news] has taught us nothing else -and it hasn't- it's that [dates like these should be marked with perspective]" so here I go with relatively unfocused thoughts...
The action went better than many, including myself, expected. This isn't to say that the human costs of the war were not great, as they most certainly were and continue to be, but merely that it could have been far worse. Although the very worst, in the form of a civil war or some other series of events, may be yet to come, so far life has probably improved in many ways for most Iraqis. Still the situation can appear grim. A March 18 statement from Amnesty International, for instance, takes the occupying forces to task for killing "scores" of unarmed people, detaining as many as 15,000 people in an inhumane manner and for not establishing "law and order." The statement also says the continued terrorism poses a deadly threat to Iraqis. Numerous reports, from the likes of Agence France-Presse, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Lauren Sandler of The Nation, have documented that the situation faced by Iraqi women is grim and in many cases worse that during the era of Saddam Hussein.
Does any of the improvement that has happened in the lives of Iraqis justify the invasion and occupation? If the only costs were those suffered so far by Iraqis and coalition troops, I would say no but have an understanding of how someone, particularly an Iraqi could feel differently. Slavoj Zizek's essay "The Iraq War: Where is The True Danger?" includes a valuable, if brief, look at this topic, although I would add that any person, Iraqi or otherwise, who supports the invasion and occupation of Iraq for the purpose of "liberation" ought to have serious reservations about the damage it has taken, and will take, to get to that point.
It is important to keep the welfare of the Iraqi people in mind, but not because they were ever a concern of those in the United States who designed and implemented the invasion. That argument gets more ridiculous each time it is repeated, but if it were true Vice-President Cheney wouldn't spew shit like, "the... more than 125,000 Americans serving in Iraq... are confronting terrorists every day in that country, so that we do not one day meet the same enemies on the streets of our own cities." Considering that terrorism wasn't a big issue in Iraq before the U.S. took over, the message is better Iraqis than Americans die. Such contempt combined with an active agenda is deplorable. It is important to keep the fate of Iraqis in mind not because Team Bush cares but because they don't.
The ostensible motivation for the war was Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, but, as I have noted before, the Bush Administration didn't seem particularly interested in finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That doesn't seem to have changed, despite Rummy's belief that they could still turn up. Even if they did expect to find weapons of mass destruction, it appears unlikely that Bush and friends saw Saddam's regime as a threat.
So what was the reason for the invasion? While the various individuals who implemented, organized, promoted and supported it surely have various reasons for doing so, ultimately it amounts to the U.S. throwing its weight around. In a September 12, 2002 speech at the United Nations General Assembly Bush said it was a matter of enforcing U.N. resolutions. I wrote at the time that this resolve was so selective that one could only conclude that the real issue was that Iraq wasn't in compliance with U.N. resolutions that the U.S. supported. In other words, the demands of the U.S. had to be met. It was an exercise in power, just as the achievement in Libya has been.
I suspect that if the occupation had gone smoother, that the U.S. would have marched on to other countries by now or at least be doing more priming of the public for such an adventure, not that they have been held back too much.
Is any of this supportable? Again I would say not for a variety of reasons. In this case, however, I don't have respect for the "yes" position, although I recognize that it does exist and is based largely on the event known as "September 11." Take today's edition of Chris Muir's Day by Day strip which features the following dialogue:
Jan: Iraq can't decide on a government. Spain shows that we're making the terrorists more active. I'm just saying we need to say if our losses are worth this. Evaluate where we are, what we're seeing out there.Translation: because of the events of September 11, 2001 we must forever keep acting without any consideration of the impact of these actions. Do whatever the hell you want Mr. President. Our job is to support you.
The current exhibition of and desire for even great power seeks to be unaccountable almost by definition -hence the rampant dishonesty used to sell it- and so long as it, in the form of the "war on terror," is being put into action, "democracy" is only an ideal.