The Wages of Militarism: Whining Imperialists
By SAUL LANDAU
Two kinds of imperial whining have come to pervade foreign policy discussion. One relates to Bush’s overextending the military so they cannot deploy to other places desperately needing their lethal capacity.
Others fixate on “American credibility.” If we withdraw, an October 22, 2006 Washington Post editorial declared, we forego our “moral obligation.” After all the U.S. military and Iraqi sacrifices, the U.S. must not allow a collapse, which would occur “without the prop of 140,000 [now 170,000] U.S. troops.”
By leaving, this argument posits, we open the door to greater horror in this poor land. Bush might have made a mistake to invade and occupy, but we as a nation owe it to the Iraqis to keep our troops there until the Iraqis themselves can assume security responsibilities.
Some moralist-realists admit that as many as 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the March 2003 US invasion. (Lancet, October 11, 2006) Nor do they dispute claims by Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Iraq (a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations), showing that malnutrition rates have risen in Iraq from 19 percent before the U.S.-led invasion to a national average of 28 percent four years later. (March 16, 2007) Caritas also claims that the causes of rising hunger relate to high levels of insecurity, collapsed healthcare and other infrastructure, increased polarization between different sects and tribes, and rising poverty.
They report that over 11 percent of Iraqi babies are born underweight, compared with a figure of 4 percent in 2003. Before March 2003, Iraq already had significant infant mortality due to malnutrition because of the 13 years of UN — pushed by Washington — sanctions. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dead, wounded and displaced, approximately one of every eight Iraqis has fled to Syria, Jordan, Iran and nearby states.
Given these brutal facts of life in Iraq under U.S. occupation, moral responsibility somehow translates into U.S. soldiers continuing to wreak even more havoc. Don’t these pious moralists know some liberal equivalent of the old Rev. Billy Graham to pose the question: What the Hell does moral obligation mean for a nation that has destroyed another nation? When does such obligation end so that the remaining Iraqis can begin to deal with their issues without an armed and belligerent occupying force? In non-religious and indeed practical terms, Bush has used the U.S. military as his moral tool. To bring democracy to Iraq, they destroyed the country. Now, according to the President and his “morally responsible” albeit reluctant backers, U.S. forces must train Iraqi military and police who will then take responsibility for security.
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