Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years On

Over 4,000 US dead, no one seems able or willing to count Iraqi casualties. $600 billion spent, with a price tag that appears to be headed into the trillions. As someone recently pointed out, that's a million million. To put that in perspective, my net worth is $4 million, more or less. With that kind of resources I never need to work again if I don't want to (and I don't). That means that the money we spent on the Iraq fiasco would allow the population of Portland, OR, my hometown, to retire. The whole thing.

We aren't even counting the number of Iraqi's whose lives have been uprooted entirely, who have fled to other countries. The number of American families whose lives will never be the same because of death or disfigurement to one of the parents or children. And, as far as I can tell, the *only* reason that America (not the architects of this fiasco - we may never know the calculus that led to this war, but we can be reasonably certain it was for personal gain in large measure) has supported this war at all (and those who know me know that I have *never* supported this war - I take no pride in having nearly every single argument against it borne out) is that we wanted our pound of flesh for 9/11.

I think we've gotten it. If revenge doesn't have the sweetness we thought it would, it's because it never does. Christianity, something many supporters of Bush and therefore the Iraq War profess to follow, teaches us to turn the other cheek. We, on the other hand, have responded to a disagreement with our neighbor by bulldozing his house and all of his friend's homes as well. And anyone he may have said hello to. And anyone who looks like him. Especially people who looked like him.

And that is the scariest thing of all, because Iraq had nothing, *nothing* to do with 9/11 other than that the people who lived there are the same general culture as those who flew the planes into the buildings. And we let a bunch of cretins with no honor use our inability to distinguish the acts of 20 people from the lives of 20 million bulldoze their homes. And let them torture people - a friend of my mother's that I've stopped having *any* political discourse said, and I quote, "Well, how else are we going to get information from these people?" How can you have an intelligent conversation with someone who can't grasp the idea that we are only as noble and good as our actions?

I just wish I knew what to do so that I could ensure it would never happen again. Whether it's slavery in the South, internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, extermination of the European Jews, Communist pogroms against intellectuals and dissidents, organized discrimination of homosexuality, or a thousand other examples from history, it's quite clear to me that humanity is nothing special and that the universe as a whole would be better off without us.

Remarkably, that's what supporters of the Iraq War were saying about Saddam just about the time it became clear that we were not going to find weapons of mass destruction, that the oil revenues would not pay for the war, and that democracy wasn't going to flourish (as if that was *ever* an actual goal). But hey, we have a really cool bunch of rather permanent looking military bases.

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