April 12, 2004
If the Invading Boots Were Not Our Own
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
If Russia had invaded Iraq last year against the advice of the US, and everything that has happened to the US soldiers had happened to Russian soldiers, I wonder if the US would be as angry with the insurgent Iraqis as we are now? Would we even call them "insurgents" or would we call them "Iraqi defenders"? Would the word at the US water coolers be anti Iraqis or anti Russians? Would we hear rumbles that the US should go into Iraq to help the invaded Iraqis? Would we feel sympathy for the Iraqis as the Russian soldiers tore down the doors of Iraqi homes and forced the families out on the street? When tragic events happened in Iraq would we be supportive of the Russians or would we say that they should have seen it coming? If, during all this death and war, we discovered that Putin had lied to his people in order to receive their support for the Iraq invasion, what would we say? Would we say that Putin should be jailed for his deceit? Would we say that he was justified if he lied to his people because Saddam was a corrupt leader?
Would we support American troops being sent to Iraq to help the Russians after the Russians discovered they had bitten off more with this war than they could chew? What if bush appeared on TV and said, "Even though we all know Russia did not plan well enough before declaring war on Iraq, and even if Russia went to war based on lies, I think I should send US men and women into this war to aid the Russians. The Russians have created a disaster in Iraq so I think some of our troops must go and die in order to bring some help to the Russian soldiers." What percentage of Americans would support the war then? How much support would bush get? Would Americans be more prone to aid the Iraqis or the Russians?
Today, this war is no longer about threats to the US or about liberating the Iraqi people, it's about being the victor. One of the eventual reasons for invading Iraq was to liberate the Iraqi people from the rule of Saddam. Saddam is no longer a factor, so how do we justify being liberators now? What are we liberating the Iraqis from now? Are we saving them from themselves by killing them? Wasn't that sort of what Saddam was doing? Iraqis may have a different definition of freedom than the bush administration does. Maybe they see freedom as the ability to make their own decisions, even if those decisions don't necessarily comply with what Americans dictate.
When one determines that they are going to honestly set people free, they must be prepared for those people to take their own direction. No one is truly free as long as they are under the control of someone else. In Iraq we now appear to be directors more than liberators. The Iraqis no longer have to obey Saddam, but now they must obey the US. We have freed the Iraqi people to be subjected to and directed by the laws and demands of the US. Is it any wonder that many Iraqis are angry? What we have given them is not freedom. We have given them a change of dictators. They are now free to hate Saddam openly, but they are forbidden to express the same emotions toward the US. Saddam used chemical weapons, we use bullets and bombs, and like Saddam we only use our weapons on those who will not fall in line.
Bush repeatedly says that we will stay the course. Each time he makes that statement, one has to wonder what course he is speaking about. What is the course and how will we know when he has achieved his purpose? Will it be when each and every Iraqi has acquiesced to our rule and our demands? That may be bush's course and purpose but if it were the course and purpose of another country, would he make that same demand with the same resolve?
Bush led America into this war based on false information, not from the intelligence services but from his own mouth. He said that invading Iraq was necessary to prevent Iraq from attacking the US. Once the facts were known, he changed his reasoning for the war and began telling Americans the invasion was to free the Iraqi population. He changed course in mid-stream.
Americans were not concerned about the plight of Iraqis on September 12, 2001. Pro-war Americans only became concerned about the plight of the Iraqi people when they realized they had been had by bush and the lies he told to justify his war. Bush gave them an excuse to save face, and they took it. It would be generous but not believable to think that Americans were so concerned about the freedom of another country that they would set aside their concerns about 9-11 and instead go to war for the liberation of Iraq. It sounds very selfless now, but in fact it was very selfish then. This war was not conceived based on fact and humanitarian concerns, this war was conceived based on lies and as a result it has become inhumane. Americans tolerate this war solely because it is their war. If another country had brought this war to Iraq we would see it for what it is. If the boots that invaded Iraq had belonged to soldiers of another country, I'm reasonably sure no American soldier's boots would have followed.
This is a war that should have never been America's war. Americans were not concerned about the future and freedom of the Iraqi people until that was the only reason they had left to justify bush's war. Americans are good and generous people, but now they and the American President are using that goodness and generosity to try to deflect the truth and justify the deaths of American soldiers. Would Americans try as hard to justify this war if it were the war of any other country but their own? Can they actually justify the deaths of American soldiers in the name of goodness and generosity?
America's reputation has been damaged by a war that should never have been our own, and Americans are the only ones who have the ability to repair that damage. But before we can repair the damages, we must make admissions. No "after the fact" reasoning will do. Bush must admit to his duplicity, many of us must admit our own complicity, and our country must take responsibility for contributing to the war we would not have supported had it been anyone else's but our own.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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