Sunday, September 25

WHY WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF IRAQ

BUMPED:

Billmon makes an important argument, one to which I subscribe. Essentially, he says that the reason we have to get out of Iraq is because it's destructive to our national character.

I had to take a good, hard look at the psychopathic side of the American spirit, and consider its implications not just for the war on terrorism and the occupation of Iraq, but its role in the emergence of an authentically fascist movement in American politics, one which feeds on violence and the glorification of violence, and which has found an audience not just in the U.S. military (where I think -- or at least hope -- it's still a relatively small fringe) but in the culture as a whole.
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We have to get out -- not because withdrawal will head off civil war in Iraq or keep the country from fallling under Iran's control (it won't) but because the only way we can stop those things from happening is by killing people on a massive scale, probably even more massive than the tragedy we supposedly would be trying to prevent.
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There was a time when I would have argued that the American people couldn't stomach that kind of butchery -- not for long anyway -- even if their political leaders were willing to inflict it. But now I'm not so sure. As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled as a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the America public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.

I don't know this for a fact, but after...reading the genocidal lunacy routinely on display at Little Green Footballs or freerepublic.com - or your average redneck watering hole for that matter -- I'm not willing to rule it out.

Which means I should have gone to Washington today after all. Because we really do need to get the troops out of Iraq -- before hell is the consequence.


UPDATE: Juan Cole agrees.

The first reason to get the ground troops out now is that they are being fatally brutalized by their own treatment of Iraqi prisoners...The brutalization of the US military and of its prisoners is a brutalization of the entire American public. It is an undermining of the foundational values of the Republic. We cannot remain Americans and continue to behave this way routinely.
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The second reason is that the ground troops are not accomplishing the mission given them, and are making things worse rather than better...
I conclude that the presence of the US ground troops is making things worse, not better.

Let's get them out, now, before they destroy any more cities, create any more hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, provoke any more ethnic hatreds by installing Shiite police in Fallujah or Kurdish troops in Turkmen Tal Afar. They are sowing a vast whirlwind, a desert sandstorm of Martian proportions, which future generations of Americans and Iraqis will reap.

The ground troops must come out. Now. For the good of Iraq. For the good of America.


FURTHER THOUGHT: Unlike during the Vietnam War years, this war has been visually sanitized for the American people. We're not allowed to see the coffins returning, there are no compelling scenes on TV of our troops shooting civilians, razing cities, and torturing prisoners. No movies have been made about the psychological effects of the killing on our troops. And this time there are whole TV and radio channels devoted to the elevation of the whole enterprise as a "noble mission." America is fighting a horrible war that exists only faintly in most of our citizens' consciouses. We've become a visual society over the past decades, and there are no visuals of this war for us to process, ergo the war just doesn't exist. Hence the lack of a public outcry.

It's up to us to make this war visible in the minds of our fellow citizens. We can't count on the media or the government to do so.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Hector said...

Despite the march in Washington I don't see a public outcry. Like the article sais, I think Americans have lost the sensitivity to the horrors of war....

8:15 PM  
Blogger Motherlode said...

Unlike during the Vietnam War years, this war has been visually sanitized for the American people. We're not allowed to see the coffins returning, there are no compelling scenes on TV of our troops shooting civilians, razing cities, and torturing prisoners. No movies have been made about the psychological effects of the killing on our troops. And this time there are whole TV and radio channels devoted to the elevation of the whole enterprise as a "noble mission." America is fighting a horrible war that exists only faintly in most of our citizens' consciouses. We've become a visual society over the past decades, and there are no visuals of this war for us to process, ergo the war just doesn't exist.

4:02 AM  

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