Monday, July 10, 2006

A Precipice

From the Associated Press:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two car bombs struck a Shiite district in Baghdad on Monday, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens, officials said, as sectarian tensions rose following a rampage by Shiite gunmen killed 41 people, most of them Sunnis....

Sunni leaders expressed outrage over the killings, and President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, appealed for calm, warning that the nation stood "in front of a dangerous precipice."
President Bush went into Iraq over the objections of a lot of Americans. During the lead-up to war, I was adamantly against it, and I was crushed once it became clear the decision was made. But once our people were in harm's way, I said to a roommate that I hoped Bush was right, and that he could actually improve things for the Iraqi people, even though I didn't think it was possible to do it with war.

The ends are inherent in the means. I don't know how many ways a person can say this to this administration before it sinks in. More than 2500 of our soldiers have died fighting this war, but that number is far, far below the number of civilians that have died in the fighting.

The hallmark of modern warfare in a shift in the proportion of military deaths to civilian deaths. Unfortunately, the fact that we don't feel the full effects of our military action to the extent that we used to, because of that proportion's shift, has led to a much more cavalier attitude about how and when we use our military as an early option.

It's like having a gun: you don't have such a fear of using violence because the consequences for you aren't as certain as they were in the era of clubs and swords.

All of this is to say: dammit. Civil war is already happening in Iraq as predicted by many of us who were against this invasion in the first place for precisely this reason, among others. It's time for Congress to force the President to either come up with a significantly different strategy, or else stop funding any military operation in Iraq that isn't ferrying our men and women home. If we're not going to intervene and stop the civil war, as Mr. Rumsfeld has said we won't do, then we are putting our soldiers in the crossfire for nothing.


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