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Reasonable deaths in a nonsense war (Read 1725 times)

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Reasonable deaths in a nonsense war
Aug 14th, 2002 at 4:30pm
by Helen Highwater,

America stands on the brink of what's being billed as a war, but nobody in the US seems worried about what might happen if Iraq defeats America. Nobody's speculating about the terms Saddam Hussein might dictate for GW Bush's surrender. There is absolutely no possibility of somber CNN reports as Iraqi troops march into Washington DC, seizing ultimate control of this nation. We're not afraid of what life would be like for Americans, under the brutal Hussein occupation of America. The US military isn't being deployed to defend Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, and New York from invading Iraqi bombers.
Do you know why?

Because America is in no danger from Iraq.

In fact, absolutely nothing is at stake for Americans in this "war," except the lives of a few US soldiers who'll be killed in transport accidents and machinery malfunctions, and the very, very few who'll be killed by Iraqi forces.

When American soldiers are placed in harm's way, Americans ought to know why. When American troops kill and die, the reasons should be sound, easy to understand, and easy to stand behind.

So long as the United States continues to attack only nations which can't really battle back Iraq and Afghanistan, not China and Russia there will be few American casualties, and thus no reason for American leaders to explain why.

When we're finished slaughtering Iraqis, flags will fly in America and fireworks will soar. And after the parades, America's leaders will settle into the work of planning the next war that can't conceivably be lost.

A war which cannot conceivably be lost is reprehensible. Such a "war" carries only monetary cost for the nation's leadership. With few casualties, there's no need to hesitate before, after, or between such wars.

So the nonsense wars will continue.

To America's leaders, dead American soldiers mean a somber-faced photo-op before playing a round of golf. Nothing raises a president's poll standings faster, after all, than the deaths of a few American soldiers in any action anywhere.

In a nonsense war like one against Iraq or Afghanistan, the first few American casualties just bring out the yellow ribbons and American flags. The first few dozen American dead get great coverage on the evening news. Even the first few hundred American deaths just rally the public behind the president.

One way to interrupt such an insane scenario would be with another insane scenario "unreasonable" numbers of American dead. Horrifically, it might be better for the world, better for America in the long run, if Iraq got lucky in this war and killed a few thousand American soldiers.

If, say, an Iraqi missile somehow eluded American defenses and exploded smack-dab in the middle of an American military base, killing thousands of Americans, perhaps that many deaths wouldn't seem "reasonable" to Americans. And at last, Americans might ask what their leaders are up to.

There aren't many things more tragic to this American than even one American soldier dying for our country. There aren't many things more tragic, but there are a few:
An American soldier dying for no good reason? That's more tragic.

Thousands of American soldiers dying for no good reason? That's more tragic.

American leaders with so little respect for America's troops, they're willing to send them to war for no good reason? That's more tragic.

But if something went horribly wrong during this or the next American nonsense war, and thousands of Americans were killed, at least those soldiers would have died for the only worthy cause such nonsense wars offer:

A few thousand dead Americans might save the lives of many thousand more, just by making people stop and think. The loved ones of the dead might finally be angry enough to ask why, and America's leaders, having no answer, might have to hesitate.

Instead of going to war against bozo third-world dictatorships which pose no threat to America, instead of fighting, killing, and dying for GW Bush's father's honor, America could "support the troops" by risking their lives only when it serves American interests in some clear, well-defined, and morally unambiguous manner.

What a complete about-face this would be from the present American policy of sacrificing US soldiers like so many penny-ante poker chips.

Of course, there's almost no chance for such a complete change of perspective. American lives almost certainly won't be lost at anything but a "reasonable" rate. Americans, by and large, won't ask their leaders any unpleasant questions.

The American dead (very few) will die for a lie, like the Iraqi dead (who will number tens of thousands, or easily hundreds of thousands). Saddam Hussein may or may not be deposed. Whatever regime follows may or may not be more amiable to American interests. And America's next nonsense war like this one will be inevitable, and won't even be debated. The nonsense wars will continue.

The tragedies will continue.

So long as America's leaders have no reason to fear war, there will be no peace.

As America unrestrained rules the world, more and more American soldiers will die, but probably only a few at a time. It will all seem very "reasonable."

More and more tiny third-world countries will look like Afghanistan and Iraq by which I don't mean deserts and sand, but death and more death, and future generations vowing vengeance.

Perhaps, in one of these nonsense wars, thousands of American soldiers instead of dozens will die for nothing. Maybe then, Americans will ask why, wonder at the lack of an answer, and realize that none of these American soldiers not even one should be ordered to fight, kill, and die for nothing.

2002, Helen Highwater

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