Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dust up

The Christian Science Monitor has normally been a news outlet that has delivered some excellent reporting on Iraq. But John Dillin delivers an editorial today that sounds like it came straight out of the halls of the American Enterprise Institute. Or The Weekly Standard. Or The National Review. Not that differentiation is needed here because, at heart and fact, they're all the same war-mongering, neo-con wonks.

In this piece, Dillin positively demands that America fight the Iraq war as brutally and unremittingly as possible. Damn the civilians and damn everything else in the country. "Total war" is what he wants and, in justifying a military need to "pound the other side into dust," he blithely compares Allied bombing campaigns of World War II against the Germans to what needs to be done now in Iraq. He further implies that the fire bombing of Dresden and the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, if harsh, a necessary means to a glorious end. He even goes on to cite the effectiveness of a "total war" strategy in the civil war, vis a vis the burning of Atlanta. He speaks of "the South" as though it was an enemy posing an existential threat to the United States.
when the US has fought "total" wars during the past 150 years, it has always won, including the Civil War and World War II. The American South tasted the bitterness of "total war" in 1864 when Union Gen. William Sherman drove everyone, including women and children, out of Atlanta and then burned most of the city to the ground. He then marched 200 miles across Georgia to the sea with 62,000 soldiers who burned and pillaged as they moved through farms and towns. Soon after, the South surrendered.
Ahh, yes, that glorious victory when the US beat ... the US. Perhaps he should have relabeled the Yanks and the Rebs as "us" and "them." That might have made the pillaging and burning of the southern states a little more palatable.

But the overriding tone, if you cannot glean it from the above passage, is one of "let's do it right." And by "right," Dillin means mercilessly obliterating the Iraqi population, as though they are an actual enemy that posed a serious threat to the United States before we invaded.

That was clearly not the case, though the Iraqi population has certainly grown a great deal of animousity towards the occupation. There is an asymmetry in what is happening in Iraq: the Iraqis see the US as the aggressor and occupier -- which it certainly is -- and the US sees itself as the liberator, destined to bring freedom and democracy to hapless Iraqis. Well, at least the Bush administration tells us that that is how we should view our presence there, once the weapons of mass destruction failed to materialize. But most of us know better than that.

Finally, Dillin poses what appears to me to be one of the single most clueless questions that I have seen uttered in the mainstream media (admittedly, most of the mainstream have never really bothered to ask the question in the first place). He seems to be posing it quite sincerely and using it, rhetorically, to further justify his reasoning that, since we're there, we should do it right. i.e. wage total war on the Iraqi population and bring them to their knees.
Perhaps the message to Mr. Bush, Congress, and the American people should be: If this fight is worth doing, if America truly has an unquestionable moral imperative to win, then wage it with everything you've got. Otherwise, why is America there?
Mr. Dillin, this fight was never worth "doing," and you know it. And the astonishing conceit that America has an "unquestionable moral imperative" in this war -- waged illegally -- while at the same time advocating that the United States pound Iraq "into dust" is simply beyond belief. Iraq wasn't even "a fight" until the Bush administration consciously made it one. The provenance of America's new found preemptive imperative rose out of the ashes of the World Trade Center and, rather than actually fighting the putative "war on terror," the Bush administration co-opted the event to exact their repellent agenda of "benevolent global hegemony," starting with Iraq, the softest target in the region. Why is America there? Didn't you get the memo?


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