A Divided Nation, United In Shame
It's funny how these things work. The culpability of the Administration for failing to secure an Iraqi weapons depot has been conclusively established by videotape taken by an ABC news affiliate on April 18, 2003. After all the swift boat and national guard and "flip-flop" nonsense, this story that wasn't even on the radar until 8 days before the election will follow voters into the booth and confirm all their suspicions that the Administration's mulish refusal to send enough troops to Iraq permitted the rise of the insurgency and caused the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops. The belated disclosure of this consequence of Administration incompetence, a misdemeanor on a bill of particulars against this Administration bulging with capital offenses, will defeat the Deserter and deliver us from evil.
But the real scandal, the one that has inexorably built since the first bomb was dropped on Baghdad, will have negligible impact on the election and cause barely a ripple in the public consciousness. The real scandal is not the incompetence, but the policy that sought to subdue a popular insurgency by means of terror and mass aerial slaughter. A Johns Hopkins School of Health study concluded that 100,000 or more civilian Iraqis have been killed in the 18 months since the beginning of the war, most since "mission accomplished", most as a result of aerial bombardment. As I've noted before, the targeting may have been precise, but the blast radius was deadly. The Iraq/Vietnam analogy is now undeniably apt in one respect. The killing of 100,000 innocent people in 18 months is a rate of carnage that matches the barbarity of the "Rolling Thunder" that devastated Vietnam during our last descent into national insanity.
Is the killing of 100,000 innocent people justified by the risk that a country that had never threatened us might one day threaten us? Is it any better if the 100,000 are buried separately rather than in "mass graves"? Is the killing of 100,000 innocent Iraqis justified by the fact that we deposed a dictator who killed 100,000 innocent Iraqis more than a decade ago? If so, does it matter that there was no evidence of an ongoing atrocity in Iraq at the time we began bombing Baghdad? 100,000 deaths later, can one still maintain that the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with our concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people?
I will no longer volley idiocies such as the argument that it doesn't really matter if Iraq had the capacity to threaten us. I will no longer indulge in refutations of the rationalizations of our aggression offered by my wingnut friends. There are 100,000 innocent people who are dead because we deluded ourselves into believing that precise targeting or our innate humanity or putative good intentions could mitigate the effects of dropping bombs the size of SUVs on areas as densely populated as Manhattan and northwest D.C. There is too much of the element of sport in our little scrums now. Our effete, bloodless debates demean the enormity of this catastrophe.
I beg those of my wingnut friends who applauded the torture at Abu Ghraib and urged the levelling of Fallujah to show a little respect and restrain your delight at the Iraqi toll and your pride in the proficiency of our death machines. The 100,000 may have been Iraqis and muslims, and therefore presumptively terrorists in your eyes, but they were humans before we rained death upon them and reduced the vessels of their souls to carrion.