News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: It's Okay, Just As Long As They Don't Dirty My Doorstep

Friday, January 13, 2006

It's Okay, Just As Long As They Don't Dirty My Doorstep

Two recent stories on the toll taken by bombing in Iraq. The little-noticed and now forgotten Lancet report, that estimated that some 60,000 Iraqi civilians had died as the result of US bombs, begins to take on new importance. Dahr, Jamail, who has reported on this before, also weighs in with his on-the-scene descriptions of the carnage wrought by US "precision bombs."

Now that the Pentagon and the President are feeling the heat for military deaths in Iraq, they think that using air power will mollify some of the war criticism here at home. With elections coming up, Bush wants to give his lock-step myrmidons some wiggle-room on Iraq so they can continue their putsch of the Senate and the House. ...

Once you start telling people that you're using precision bombs, then the rationale gains credence that anyone who dies as a result does so almost magically. A precision-bomb doesn't kill--like a belated birthday present, it's the thought that counts anyway, right? We don't mean to kill, maim, and rip apart men, women, and children--it's the bomb's fault, something wrong in the wiring, or the programming, or not enough grease in the gears. Something like that.

And people will buy this rationale, because

  • they don't want to know that innocents die in war
  • no Iraqi's innocent anyway, since they're all potential terrorists
  • if they don't dirty my doorstep, I don't need to know about it
I've covered this aspect of the war before. In a previous post, I explained that in America people think there are places where's it's okay for other people to kill each other. These are the "killing allowed" zones. Places like slums, depressed areas, high-crime areas, etc. are open zones where, while the death rate is regrettable, there's not much you can do about it. And anyway, human nature being what it is, people will kill and it's better that it happen there--that it have a place to "get it out of the system" before it threatens other areas.

These killing allowed zones are much like red light districts. America's the land of compromise and yankee pragmatism. We all know that people will have illicit sex--for whatever reason--so let's just limit it in scope and let it happen, but make sure that it doesn't dare encroach on the places where good people live. In the same way, Iraq has become the ox-blood part of the American empire.

This ia all part of Bush's plan. Like any good posse knows, you trick the bad guys into the canyon and then bushwack them. The problem in Iraq, of course, is that the bushwack has now turned into a free-fire zone. In this script, the posse kicks in doors when everyone's asleep, holds everyone at gunpoint, then hauls off the men-folk to jail so they can be properly softened up to get information one way or the other.

There are so many ways to see how this war fits one man's demented lack of ethical depth. Playing into the public unconscious--replaying those old videos of westerns and action movies that we've grown up with--the rationales for this careen from one bad movie to another.

And like any child, the US public greedily holds on to its own fantasies--especially when it's given new presents--rather than make the hard scrabble jump to adulthood, learning what's real and what's not.

Update 1/15/06: U.S. Strike On Al Qaeda Top Deputy Said to Fail

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