A Response to Critics
— Kale Baldock
DAVID FINKEL'S COMMENTS (ATC 122) about my book Is Iraq Another Vietnam?,
and about my position against immediately withdrawing the
All these commentators share a genuine desire to see the best outcome for
the people of
None agrees with my position that the
However, I think the judgment of whether this war was right or wrong has been superseded by the more pressing concerns of how to get U.S. forces home, without sacrificing the stability of Iraq in the process. Certainly, we should continue to tell the truth about the distortions and lies which created this disaster. That it was wrong (or at least a mistake) to launch the war in the first place has become evident to the majority of Americans. But now we are faced with a moral dilemma, the qualities of which have become, beyond our wishes, unexpectedly complex.
The question now is: In the face of a crisis which threatens the future of an entire nation that has unwillingly fallen hostage to American neoconservative insanity, should we uncritically allow our emotional response to override our reason?
After the Shiite Golden Dome mosque was blown up last February, the inter-sectarian war escalated tremendously -- not attacks on U.S. forces. Referring to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the May 8 edition of Democracy Now! radio reported that
"(A)t least 4,100 civilians were killed in
Is it reasonable to conclude that the presence of U.S. forces is "causing" this inter-sectarian bloodbath, and that it would just go away if the occupation just went away?
Michael Schwartz makes a very good point that
I believe the hatred has already become self-sustaining. So does journalist
Nir Rosen, who in the winter of 2005 argued that if
I freely admit, the most we can hope for from a well-intentioned but poorly prepared (and consistently lied to) American military force in Iraq is to provide a barely adequate lid on the bubbling strife which threatens to engulf that beleaguered nation -- and perhaps the region.
Another question: How can one interpret the suicide bombings against Iraqi
civilian as being "aimed at"
Dynamics of Rage
I think these are signs that a complex dynamic of rage and reaction are afoot
Finkel suggested that "No antiwar movement ever won by demanding pseudo-realist
'intense negotiations for national unity' or nostrums of that sort." And if
the goal is simply to get the
If indeed a
True, if we support the prolonged presence of U.S. forces in
I realize that many readers will probably consider my judgments paternalistic,
detached, or worse. I often question myself as well, particularly in light
of polls showing 80% of Iraqis in favor of withdrawal, and 72% of
They just want it all to end; and I would likely echo their opinions if in their shoes. But we should also keep in mind that desperate people often make irrational choices. Who can blame them? Yet, isn't it also the responsibility of those who have the luxury of security to put their minds to work in the spirit of well-intentioned reason -- doing so in the service of what they think will most likely benefit the victims of this tragedy?
Of course, if a unified Iraqi government demands the exit of foreign forces,
then exit they must. Hopefully it will speak with enough authority and cohesion
to merit the respect of the various insurgent groups who are currently putting
It may be utterly naaive for me to demand that the
In the end, we're all striving for the same basic goals, whether or not we agree in our conclusions. I think that the complexity of the situation demands we recognize our own opinions to be, necessarily, incomplete and to varying degrees inaccurate. Nevertheless, let's keep on responding, each in own way, to the current conflict as we believe best serves all involved -- especially, of course, the Iraqis, whose predicament is the outcome of criminal statecraft practiced by butchers in Baghdad and Washington alike.
ATC 123, July-August 2006