A View From The Handbasket

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The Noble Mission
Posted by neros_fiddle at 12:27 PM
One of the most mind-boggling successes of the Bush White House (and most of those successes are PR-related) was how it neatly sidestepped the documented fact that none of its original rationales for the Iraq War turned out to be... true. WMD and al Qaeda links both turned up a big fat goose egg.

What was the cost to the administration for this colossal failure? Colin Powell? Allowed to retire with honor. Condi Rice? Promoted. Donald Rumsfeld? Still there. George Bush and Dick Cheney? Re-elected. The government got a big fat pass on this one. How did this happen? Somehow, Bush managed to convince the media and the people that WMD and al Qaeda didn't really matter -- we really went to war to build a democracy and be a good citizen of the world. And, while we were at it, lure in actual terrorists so we could kill them. Oh, and if you want to believe against all evidence that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, that's fine.

What was supposed to be an exercise in self-defense became a noble mission of mercy to save Iraq from Saddam.

A bait and switch of epic proportions.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you saying. That's all old news. Is there a point to this rant?

Yes. It seems to me that one reason why Bush was able to get away with this massive shell game was that no one really understands what war is all about. The *cost* of what we're doing doesn't register. Not money, though that's enormous. The moral cost -- to ourselves, to our soldiers, to our image in the world, to our credibility. There's a Hollywood vision of good ol' American troops bringing civilization to a backward, immoral, hopelessly crude people.

Which is why this is such an important story. (More here and here.)

If we, as a country, decide that we are going to scapegoat a country for a horrific crime and choose to invade them, there are moral costs. If we decide to try to make democracy flow from the barrel of a gun despite all historical evidence that you can't do that, there are moral costs.

One of those moral costs is turning many of your children into amoral monsters willing to use gruesome pictures of people they've killed (with added light-hearted captions) as currency to gain access to pornography. The moral cost is this:

The captions that accompany these images, which were apparently written by soldiers who posted them, laugh and gloat over the bodies. The person who posted a picture of a corpse lying in a pool of his own brains and entrails wrote, "What every Iraqi should look like." The photograph of a corpse whose jaw has apparently rotted away, leaving a gaping set of upper teeth, bears the caption "bad day for this dude." One person posted three photographs of corpses lying in the street and titled his collection "DIE HAJI DIE."

War is not a moral crusade. War is not an honorable solution to intractable diplomatic problems. War is not noble. War is a meat grinder that takes people and turns them into either shells or corpses.

Our troops have not failed us. We have failed our troops. We have spent our moral capital on a war without a solid foundation of necessity.

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