Well, it’s finally happened, as I suspected it would eventually. In spite of any reservations I’ve had about this particular campaign, I think this quote sums up the larger issue very nicely (a tip of the ol’ blogger template to Andrew Sullivan):
“Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves." - Winston Churchill, "The Gathering Storm."
Hubby and I have been watching war coverage off and on, from which I’ve gathered a few random observations:
On Saturday, one of our “embedded” journalists went through the small Iraqi town whose people had so enthusiastically welcomed our troops on Friday, to find a far cooler reception. We’d better get used to this – many of the Iraqis, I’m sure, are riding emotional roller coasters; first, there’s the general trauma of seeing your country invaded after a grueling wait; then there’s the cruelty of Saddam’s regime versus the humiliation of having to be rescued by infidels. Many are no doubt wondering bitterly why we didn’t come before a family member was killed; some are probably worrying about whether we’ll desert them this time, as we had the Kurds after Gulf War I, or perhaps dreading the influx of immoral infidel culture, in the form of Baywatch reruns, McDonald’s or blasphemous novels like The Satanic Verses (I have a suspicion that the people of the small towns might be more conservative as a group than city dwellers in, say, Baghdad). How many Iraqis are torn between Saddam’s relentless propaganda and the sudden promise of liberation that’s suddenly appeared, in the form of the 101st Airborne or the Royal Marines, right on their doorsteps? And how many are wondering if this is too good to be true? Finally there’s the culture gap between westerners and Islam, including the Moslem contempt for our indecisive responses to previous terrorist attacks, and the long history of previous humiliation at the hands of western infidels.
The basic point is that many Iraqis will probably be spending at least some time on this roller coaster, veering between the exultation of a chance at freedom and their own personal fears. This is a perfect recipe for extreme stress, and some people will probably show it; perhaps, as in the case of those villagers, by swiftly changing reactions to visitors. Bottom line is, we might not need to read TOO much into incidents like this unless fighting actually breaks out. But this does suggest that allied troops need to see themselves as guests, and act accordingly….
Did anyone else notice that Kuwait City has a much more impressive skyline than Baghdad, which has very little except for that one large mosque? But on the other hand, did anyone notice all the beautiful ornament on that mosque, even seen quickly and at a distance?
Already some are denouncing the bombardment of Baghdad as terribly and needlessly destructive; look, they proclaim angrily, at the raging fires and the ominous shroud of smoke covering the city! But do they realize that Saddam has had trenches dug around the city, which have been filled with oil and set on fire, to add to the spectacle? And are they aware that the buildings we’ve been aiming at are, in Pentagon-ese, “leadership targets”, in other words, (pardon me if I disturb delicate peacenik sensibilities here) actually legitimate targets that might have been abandoned once the bombardments started anyhow?
But we do have one awful problem – Smart bombs are very accurate at hitting a target, but they simply can’t tell the difference between innocent civilians and Republican Guards…And thus the tragedy of “friendly fire” incidents and wounded civilians…
Well, that’s all for now – Pray for the safety of our troops, and for a quick and just end to this!
Next time, more on just war, or perhaps more notes on the WTC rebuilding -
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON IRAQ… For those of you who were thinking my humble blog was becoming an unscheduled supplement to the Architectural Record, now it’s back to the chase, with some preliminary, off the cuff observations:
One thing I haven’t heard anyone mention, except for a good friend who’s in the military, and who’s quite concerned – do we have enough troops to pull of this invasion, and handle whatever happens afterward, while still taking care of all our other obligations? I think I’ve heard someone say that we’ll need to have troops in Afghanistan for 50 years (!), and then there’s always North Korea…And if we need to move our troops (say, from Germany) to fit our new priorities, has this been done?
On 60 minutes a couple of weeks ago, a gentleman was charging that our soldiers haven’t had enough training to use their protective gear effectively, that a lot of it wasn’t where it might be needed, and that a number of the protective suits were defective (with no way of telling which). It almost sounded like putting on one of those suits would be like playing Russian roulette, and the troops are supposedly quite demoralized about this. Hey, I know journalists sometimes make mountains out of molehills, but do these charges have any credibility? I believe he was a former serviceman, who said he’d been getting a lot of E Mails from our troops already in the gulf
If Saddam does have body doubles, isn’t this going to make it that much harder to track him down and identify him?
This might seem truly callous, but if Saddam IS going to throw his worst at us (or at anyone else), I’d rather he do it now than after he’s had a few more years to develop more lethal toys.
The best reason I can think of for putting North Korea on the back burner for right now is that if we deal with Saddam first, he won’t have a chance to get nukes. North Korea, on the other hand, already has them, so we can’t put that genie back into the bottle. Thus, dealing with Saddam right now would remove the chance of another rogue state armed with nukes, whereas if we focus on Korea, what’s to stop Saddam from getting nukes in the meantime?
I hope our planners don’t become so confident that they get careless, because we all know what pride goeth before…
Our foreign policy has often been hampered by a failure to understand other cultures, and a tendency to not straighten things up before we leave. I sincerely hope we don’t make these mistakes now.
HOW CAN A WAR BE JUST? There are two basic questions here. The first is, can any war be just? The second is, assuming that a war can be just, what makes it just? I’m going to spend most of my time on that second question, but before I go there, I have a few comments on the first one:
I’ve never been a pacifist, because I started to figure out that there is such a thing as a just war and an unjust peace when I first learned about WW II and the Holocaust back in the 4th or 5th grade.
I’ve also never been a pacifist because, in the very hypothetical event that I had to make a choice, I’d never be sure that cowardice didn’t influence that decision.
The pacifists I respect most are those who show courage in other ways, such as the Quakers who were so important in the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. Those folks showed that you can indeed be a pacifist because of sincere conviction, without any taint of cowardice.
Please allow me to observe that the same Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” also told His disciples, shortly before his death, to take a coat and a sword, and to sell their coat to buy a sword if they had to (Can’t find the verse – I’ll need to dig up my concordance & get it later)
In Luke3:14, when some soldiers ask John the Baptist what they must do to show their repentance, he doesn’t tell them to go AWOL, but to “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages. (more on just what relation doing violence to no man has to their duties as soldiers later)
Consider Ps. 149:5-9:
“Let the Saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.
To execute judgment upon the heathen; and punishment upon the people.
To bind their kings with chains, and the nobles with fetters of iron.
To execute upon them the judgment written: this honor have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.”
Now before anybody out there in the blogosphere can accuse me of the “kill the heathen!” mentality that made the Crusades, for instance, so terrible, let me explain that I don’t mean something like the Crusades at all. The point with which I could agree, “Dieu le veult!”, or “God wills it!” is the more general idea that God expects me, as a Christian, to fight evil wherever I see it, in any way I can, to the last ounce of my strength. And this doesn’t require any special revelation, either – the Bible does not mince words in its basic definition of good and evil.
PART III PART II BEFORE I SIGN OFF, A BLOGROLL TO:
Lt. Smash, who is writing Live from the Sandbox - ie, Kuwait - drop by and wish him well!
Cox & Forkum, most excellent cartoonists, who present, for our entertainment & edification, our bon ami M. Chirac in a tutu (most appropriate), one more reason why you should NOT play poker with W, & other witty comments…