The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, March 09, 2006

What civil war?

The righties are taking the same approach to the recent sectarian violence in Iraq that they're taking with the Bush Katrina briefing. In the latter, it's all about the difference between 'overtopping' and 'breaching,' although any way you slice it resulted in more than one thousand deaths. And given the number of those still missing since the hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast, more than two thousand deaths. But it's all about dictionary definitions.

Now the righties are complaining about the use of the term 'civil war' to describe recent developments in Iraq. Ostensibly because the body count hasn't been high enough to merit the term war. But again, no matter how you may quibble over the semantics, the simple fact is that thousands of people are dying because of religious strife in a nation which we invaded & destabilized, and which we cannot control because of incompetent planning.

The bodies of 18 men, bound, blindfolded and strangled, were found in a Sunni Arab district of Baghdad, apparent victims of sectarian turmoil gripping Iraq and threatening the formation of a coalition government.

Iraq's Shi'ite interior minister, a hate figure for many Sunnis who accuse him of condoning death squads, escaped an apparent assassination attempt when a roadside bomb blasted his convoy. Minister Bayan Jabor, however, was not in his car.

In its annual report on human rights abuses worldwide, the US State Department said reports increased in 2005 of killings by the US-backed Iraqi government or its agents and members of sectarian militias dominated many police units.

"Police abuses included threats, intimidation, beatings, and suspension by the arms or legs, as well as the reported use of electric drills and cords and the application of electric shocks," the State Department said of Iraqi human rights three years after US troops invaded to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

About 50 Iraqi private security guards were seized at their compound by men in police uniform on Wednesday - but Interior Ministry officials said they were unaware of any formal arrests.

I'm more than willing to grant these events the ironic label of 'disturbance' rather than 'civil war,' but the simple fact of the matter is that no pro-Bush talking head can provide a more substantial defense than "it doesn't qualify as a war."

The scrapheap of justifications for war with Iraq is littered with a huge number of phony arguments, cooked intelligence, and outright lies. The majority of Americans now believe we were led into it on false premises. But now the list of justifications for being there after three years of incompetence and failure is growing increasingly short. And the best defense the neo-fascists can offer is "Hey, it doesn't qualify as a civil war... yet."

I admit to being in two minds about what we should do. It's a disgrace that our nation's young were sent to fight and die because of a lie. On the one hand, it would be a serious tragedy to withdraw when the nation could devolve into another Rwanda or Darfur-- a massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocents about which the world does nothing. On the other hand, we've emptied the treasury and spent thousands of American lies on this tragic venture. And making things right after three years of allowing things to become totally fucked up there will cost even more in money and lives. Even as things stand today, the White House is pushing for another 90 billion dollars in spending on their hellishly bad plan. Staying the course as the Bushies define it is a prescription for nothing more than war profiteering and the deaths of thousands of innocents-- Iraqis and Americans. But withdrawing means a potential genocide and an even more precipitous drop in America's standing in the international community.

In short, the Bush administration has left us with Hobson's choice. Whether we stay or leave, thousands more innocents will die and the legacy of Iraq will be turmoil in the Middle East and unprecedented hatred for the United States. Accuse the Democrats of 'lacking a plan' if you must, but this disaster is the sole product of an administration that used its complete control of the American government to rush into ill-advised and poorly-planned ideological missions of which the ultimate costs have yet to tallied.