Don’t Get Me Started


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My little cousin Jenny is all growed up now and has taken a gig in the US Peace Corps, stationed in Burkina Faso! Let me say on record that if any wrong were to befall her, I would personally lead a commando team (made up, sadly, of my high school D&D buddies) to extract her. Cue the A-Team music! In the mean time, she has started her own blog from that country. Read it at burkinabebe.blogspot.com.

Meanwhile, here’s a story about how dinosaurs actually co-existed with humans! (Yes, I’m grinning and shaking my head as I write this.) Where did I find this link, you ask? Well, the Western Standard Blogs, of course.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s obesity and nutrition post, British environmentalist George Monbiot has this interesting article about how the global need for Omega-3 fatty acids will completely deplete the world’s fish stocks. In fact, according to Monbiot, the world is already dangerously low on fish biomass!

Nasty Nick sends us to a yet another blog hosted by an epidemiologist. What, I’m not the only one? Here it is: scienceblogs.com/aetiology.

Which brings us to today’s topic. It seems the rightwingnuttosphere is all abuzz about Republican Rick Santorum’s supposed finding of evidence of 500 WMDs in Iraq! Oddly, the story is mostly being reported by such biased sources as Instapundit, which further feeds the Right’s wacky conviction that the mainstream media (MSM) is huddling in conspiracy against “the truth”.

But, as the Washington Post states, “[DOD] intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.” When the Pentagon refuses to back up your hawkish theories, you know you’re on shaky ground. Interestingly, Chris Cox had made the same false discovery of the same non-evidence more than a year ago.

Leaving aside the technical point that gas and most chemical weapons, like those in the report, are not WMDs (they are battlefield weapons, like mustard gas, which cannot be effectively weaponized against civilian population targets), the lesson of this fiasco is obvious: the warmongers are running out of justifications for their illegal, immoral war.

Let’s recap. The Rightist apologists claimed that Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident perpetrated by a handful of overeager rednecks. They were wrong, as mountains of evidence now attest. They claimed that Saddam was stockpiling WMDs and hiding them from the UN inspectors. They were wrong, as even Bush now admits. They claimed that the invasion would be quick and decisive and ultimately self-funding. They were wrong. They claimed that the Iraqis would meet their “liberators” with cheers and flowers. They were so, so wrong.

The smarter ones claimed that the invasion would create an American-friendly safe zone for democracy, which would then serve as a beacon and warning to tyrannies in the region. Nice utopian thinking, but clearly wrong, wrong, wrong. When the Americans pull out (and they will, in the next administration), Iraq will be torn asunder, with its Kurd population suing for independence, its Shiite population seeking alliance with Iran, and its remaining bulk remaining tepid and powerless. Hey, the Rightist dream on this matter may still come about, I give them that, but so far all signs point to not.

The dumber ones claimed that the US invaded Iraq so that “we could fight terrorists over there instead of over here.” Leaving aside the important question of whether it is moral to sacrifice another nation just to create a convenient battleground, this is one of the stupidest arguments I’ve ever seen put forward in a foreign policy context. Its biggest flaw is that it incorrectly assumes that there is a finite number of terrorists. As we have seen, recruitment rates into insurgent groups appears to be stable, if not acclerating, and Islam-based terrorist activites around the world have not decreased in the wake of the war. If anything, they have increased, largely due to “home grown” cells, such as those found in Canada and those responsible for Madrid. What the invasion has served to do is to create a powerful visual spectacle to encourage, not discourage, the recruitment of discontent Muslim men into groups advocating anti-American activities.

So now that all of their original reasons for going to war have been discredited, what do they have left? The bottom of the barrel, the one thing Bush and the neocons never discussed during the run-up to Shock & Awe: the war was actually to liberate the Iraqi people from that tyrant Saddam. Right. Pull the other one.

If they were so concerned about the Iraqi people, they wouldn’t be dropping bombs on them, and they would certainly keep track of how many are being killed in this war (something the Pentagon refuses to do). If they were so concerned about the Iraqi people, they would not have tolerated a decade of crippling US-led sanctions which, by some estimates, resulted in the death of half a million Iraqi children. If they were so concerned about the Iraqi people, they’d be spending their blogging space arguing for increased police presence in Iraq, protection of its cultural treasures and the fixing of its infrastructure, instead of crowing to the moon about the “evils of Muslims”. Guess what? Iraqis are, for the most part, Muslims.

And if indeed the invasion is all about rescuing the Iraqi people (give me a freakin’ break), then it has failed horribly. Under Saddam, people were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. Under the Americans, people are imprisoned, tortured and murdered. Under Saddam, women were free of the veil, fundamentalism was almost unheard of, there was potable tap water, reliable electrical power, an efficient educational system, excellent hospitals, safe streets and a thriving 20th century infrastructure. Under the Americans, there is no regular power or water, minimal economy, rampant fundamentalism, thug rule on the streets and a rapidly crumbling infrastructure. Under the Americans, we have lost 1-3 generations of cultural and intellectual activity. Instead of the most advanced Arab nation in the world, as it was prior to 1990, we have a barely tenable nation of subsistence dwellers.

Now I’m sure some of the illiterates out there will misinterpret the preceding paragraph as tantamount to support for Saddam. If you are one of those people, I invite you to cower in your bathroom and insert large spiky objects into your orifices; you are too far beneath me to be worthy of response. The point, obviously, is that the invasion of Iraq has made life for Iraqis measurably worse in all respects except, perhaps, in respect of their theoretical personal liberties.

Are such theoretical liberties worth giving up safety, infrastructure, health and economy for a whole generation? Are they worth the lives of hundreds of thousands of people? Maybe. Some might say yes. I don’t know. But I do know that we had no right to make that choice for them.

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