Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said

Unfortunately, I don't have time to talk of many things, not ships nor shoes nor ceiling wax, and forget about cabbages and kings.

Of the many things I have backlogged to opine about, today I am thinking of Iraqi civilian casualities again.

At the right is a link to (as well as right here). Estimated civilian casualties ranges from 11,000 to 13,000 Iraqis now. I think we're nearing 1000 Coalition troops. And I think the estimate of Iraqi soldiers killed in the invasion/occupation was ~5,000-15,000. (I don't know anything about these Iraqi men -- but doesn't it seem reasonable to assume these may have been good people as much as our troops? Certainly, there were torturers and Hussein's elite guard, which I wouldn't assume had escaped committing horrible acts, but considering that service was compulsory and that Hussein was pretty, er, "convincing", and also considering that whatever they may thought of him, they may still have wanted to defend their country, family and sovereignty as much as the next guy, is it possible to think of them as no less guilty of doing their duty than our men & women? Again, think of them not as Saddam's thugs, there's no way *all* of them were criminals and sadists, those who weren't under Uday, Qusay, or Saddam may have escaped torturing anyone; think of how we're fond of saying 99% of our troops are good people. And many of the younger soldiers couldn't have participated in Saddam's greatest atrocities, which took place some years/decades ago in the Iran/Iraq War and the gassing of the Kurds, when he was still buying weapons from, well, us. If we assume maybe two thirds of the foot soldiers of Iraq were as innocent and as much their "most valuable treasure" -- the children of good, hard working parents in Iraq -- then the tragedy may well be even larger -- ~30,000! A large number for a sacrifice most Iraqis disprove of today, and most US citizens don't think was worth the several hundred soldiers we lost. End digression.) takes into account civilian deaths that happened as the result of actions of insurgents, under the assumption that the (former) occupation had responsibility for law and order in Iraq, and the insurgency would not exist without the occupation. While some have blown off this idea, it to me seems similar to the Palestinian case. Stay with me here. The Palestinian/Israel roadmap repeatedly broke down under Sharon's insistence of sustained cease-fires, i.e. no terrorist attacks, under the assumption that the PLO had responsibility and capability for controlling the population under its governance. An intellectually consistent stance would be that the Coalition had the responsibility for controlling the population under its governance, and assuring safety, making them responsible for civilian deaths that were not directly "collateral damage" as well.

Of course, I don't believe the PLO security forces CAN control all of their population. After all, as has been forgotten by most serious commentators, the Oslo Accords set the PLO up to have very little control -- so that their security forces wouldn't pose a threat to Israel. A legitimate concern perhaps -- but not a good step towards sovereignty nor trust. And as a result, I truly believe that at times the PLO has tried in earnest to stop all attacks -- but it is as much, or rather, further beyond the abilities of this intentionally hobbled security force as keeping safe Iraqi civilians or similarly, the ability of the police in any city to prevent *all* violent crime for some set period of time. I don't believe under a totalitarian regime or a constitutional one is it possible to control every person with the will and capability to destroy and murder (or resist, considering your viewpoint; I'm somewhat agnostic on this point). Bombs are not that hard to make, and watching and controlling every person with a will to destroy has never been accomplished in any place ever. And certainly not through "targeted killings" (assasinations! call it what it is!).

I believe that the US should not have invaded Iraq (when Human Rights' Watch and Amnesty International decry Hussein but state there is no humanitarian emergency, I will tend to side with them rather than those who have decided 31,000 deaths was worthy payment for a dictator who murdered most villainously two decades ago). Once it did, it certainly should've protected the cultural treasures of the Cradle of Civiliization (at least so-called), the infrastructure, the noncombatants, and the weapons stocks that had insufficient guards, enabling the insurgency to arm itself early. While I believe there should be NO troops there, it is generally accepted that the mere presence of overwhelming force can make violence less necessary and less likely. Rather than the crap-o-riffic understaffing and underplanning taken by the underhanded Donald "Known Unknowns" Rumsfeld.

And I believe that the Palestinians cannot control their entire population -- indeed, Israel either cannot or will not control its settlers' illegal expansion into Palestinian land. As much, or perhaps more than we expect the Palestinians to allow peace processes to proceed even while these offending settlements exist, with settlers willing to fight Israel to stay part of Israel in expropriated land (reminiscent of Northern Ireland and the Ulsters), Israel must allow peace to proceed without complete peace. After all, if we are supposedly not into giving in to terrorists' demands, Israel *must* proceed and work through the outbursts of violence to achieve peace. Because that is exactly what the terrorists *do not* want, while it is what the majority of the impoverished and suffering Palestinians *do* want.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This doesn't even mention cotton candy!!!