Sunday, December 18, 2005

Why don't I Blog on Iraq More?

The Peking Duck offered a thread recently that discussed the alleged silence of liberal blogs on the elections in Iraq. Richard's essay was almost perfect, but I wanted to discuss it myself. As I said in the comments there.....

I didn't blog on Iraq much because, frankly, I don't like contemplating that criminal stupidity that is consuming both Iraq and my country. It's just too painful for me to look at any more. I literally push it from my mind.

Another problem is that I cannot contemplate Iraq without a deep, explosive, killing anger. And I don't like feeling angry and hateful.

Finally. What was there to say? Fussell writes on this issue in the best book on WWII, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War when he notes that while WWI created an outpouring of poetry and novels outraged with the war, but the far worse horror of WWII resulted only in ..... silence. I think there is a lot of the same problem. Here the analogue is Vietnam and Iraq -- the first produced a steady stream of movies, art, and literature, the second......nada.

Silence. I no longer become outraged, so much as more and more distressed and dislocated.....and silent. The President of US announced a couple of days ago that he would be damned if he would obey the Constitution, and the NY Times defended his use of the Constitution as a doormat, not in forthright explication, but with careful rhetoric that was like the hollow clang of an empty suit of armor. I feel like the lead character in Dark City, who awakens every night at midnight to find that everyone else is asleep and the city is re-arranging itself around him. To speak is to bang on the car doors of the sleeping denizens of Dark City, expecting them to wake up, but instead, they go right on dreaming, unaware that the world they knew has been transformed into something unutterably evil. What use is speech in the face of that? For the me the United States I knew has become like a phantom limb, sending me itches of a previous wholeness.....

As I noted at Peking Duck, all this was so predictable. Many things in my life I have failed to foresee, and others I plunged into like damned doomed troopers in a Wilfred Owen poem, but Iraq was a future whose nature was already written in our past. Two years ago I argued in this thread here on April 1, 2003 in conversation with spl_cadet:


So what if they weren't as nasty? How is that supposed to make us commit atrocities?

spl_cadet, we committed atrocities in a number of places when facing guerilla warfare, which we face now. The Iraqis are not stupid. They know that if the US army is stressed enough it will begin indiscriminate warfare against civilians. Already the Army is asking the Administration for more liberal rules, and is taking a tougher stance on civilians. The Iraqis do not have to defeat us on the battlefield. There are many ways we can lose this war, and one way is if we lose ourselves.

I am against this war, precisely because I know what it will do to my country's military and reputation abroad. We seem like madmen to the rest of the world now. I live overseas, you know. And if I see the worst happening in this war, it is because of my experiences with the incompetence and venality of the current Administration, and the nature of international politics and above all, the dehumanizing effects of war on both the Army that fights and the People that watch. Calls to "String 'em up!" scare me. War is madness.

So do I. That's why, like a good democratic citizen, I carefully monitor its behavior and hold it accountable for its actions. I do not take my leaders' word for anything, and neither should you. A democracy cannot function if people who profoundly disagree with current policy are told that they hate they country and that whenever the Administration declares war, everyone should shut up. That's not how democracy is supposed to operate. Indeed, it is in precisely these times that people should speak up the loudest.

Maybe. I sure hope so. I'd hate to think what our military and economy will look like after a year of this. Of course, they are already racking up Syria and Iran next. Did you see Powell's speech?


What's incredible is that after two years of defeat and dishonor and destruction of two countries, anyone supports this war.

1 comment:

STOP_George said...

I feel somewhat the way you do, Michael -- and I'm not even an American citizen.

I am perplexed and befuddled that your countrymen are not surrounding the Whitehouse en masse everyday in "revolt mode".

The Bush Administration Resume:

- stole 2 elections.
- complacent or complicit in 9/11.
- initiated an illegal and unjustified war costing 10's of thousands of lives
- used chemical weapons on Iraqis
- tortured innocent civilians around the world and continues to do so
- spies on Americans in America.

And the list keeps growing and growing.

It's mind-boggling what has happened to your country!