|Saturday, March 22, 2003
02:32 - An "Oh God, what have we done?" moment
As the human shields roll back home:
"Don't you listen to Powell on Voice of America radio?" [the Iraqi driver] said. "Of course the Americans don't want to bomb civilians. They want to bomb government and Saddam's palaces. We want America to bomb Saddam."
We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war.
The driver's most emphatic statement was: "All Iraqi people want this war." He seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had.
Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come?"
Okay. Now that that's all cleared up...
All wars have winners and losers. Perhaps, in order for this discussion to be meaningful, we ought to be asking not who is for the war and who is against the war-- but, rather, who the war is for.
So let's review: Who will benefit, physically or politically, from our successfully prosecuting this war?
- The US' national security
- The Iraqi civilian population
- Iraqi troops willing to surrender
- The UK and other nations in the "coalition of the willing"
And who would have benefitted, physically or politically, from our not prosecuting this war?
- Saddam Hussein and his sons
- Iraqi troops loyal to Saddam
- Islamic terrorists operating out of Iraq or anticipating Iraqi assistance
- The anti-war protesters
So... what, then, is the problem? If we are willing to sacrifice the interests of anybody in the first list for the benefit of those in the second, then something is very, very wrong.
(I note, by the way, that the UN loses either way. Either we go to war without their approval, rendering them meaningless as an international body; or we don't go to war because they don't approve it, and thus prove that none of their resolutions have teeth. They could have won by approving war, but instead they put themselves into a no-win situation.)
And if there's one thing to be absorbed from this, it's that even if Andrea on that radio clip really was just a feeb who hadn't thought things through, Mohammed (her opponent) certainly had a crucial point: Iraqis want the war to happen, as so many anti-war activists are gradually and independently finding out, to their great shock and awe.
When that's entered into the equation, what real reasons not to fight are there?