"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." ~ John Stuart Mill
Will We See the Return of Ted Westhusing?
Exclusive to STR
April 25, 2008
Haven't you heard the latest? No, Colonel Westhusing won't actually be coming back. Not in the flesh anyway. When I mention him 'returning' in this context, it's because I figure ' with apologies to the makers of those potato chips ' that the State ought to have a slogan that more accurately describes its feelings about the people in its standing armies. Something like: 'Kill all you want, we'll send more.' No other conclusion can be drawn when one examines only a few of the more recent goings-on through the prism of universal morality and libertarian philosophy.
I already examined the complete waste of Westhusing's life, as well as the similarly suspect scenario surrounding Pat Tilman's death, both in some minor detail. Much more information is available to anyone with time to burn and an Internet connection. To realize, at this late date, the high probability of other brave, if misguided, young men seeing the same or similar fate if the Bu'Shite chickenhawks get their way is frankly disgusting.
To be clear, I do not lament Colonel Westhusing or Corporal Tillman because they were 'special' per se, i.e., different in any morally substantive way from the many other young men and women who have died similarly needless deaths. I lament them because they are, quite unfortunately, not unique. (One might be inclined to debate the explicit circumstances of both deaths, including but not limited to, who did the shooting, and how each man's opinion of the war may or may not have effected his fate, but that is not the point of this essay.) They are harbingers of just how far that waste can extend. There are signs indicating that little has changed in the wake of these and many other wasted lives. Two rather obvious points, made by many others, come almost immediately to my mind.
Firstly, the invasion of Iraq has been a failure, and a blind man could see it. In fact, if aliens came to Earth on any given Wednesday and stopped by D.C. on their way to see the 'Seven Wonders,' they would, by something like the following Friday, be asking, 'Say, how come y'all are still in this Iraq place?' (Aliens always have a Southern accent.)
The number and variety of people, from both sides of the aisle and all over the political spectrum, calling for a complete troop withdrawal is almost comical. If President Bush and I were in a bar sharing a cordial drink ' something I reckon he's done before, given his decision-making skills ' I'd probably break it down to him with something like this: 'Dude, when William F. Buckley says the war is a failure, as he was saying in February of 2006, it's way past time to pack our bags, ummkay?' Yet, the White House seems uninterested in these notions.
Secondly, the continued insurgency in Iraq is composed, in large part, of people from one of our 'allies' in the region. U.S. officials now openly state that Saudis make up about half of the Sunni extremists who comprise the foreign fighters in Iraq . Even better, many of them are suicide bombers. The irony here is almost comical. Given that most of the 'terrorists' from 9/11 and very likely some of the money that funded those attacks ' the justification used by the Bu'Shites for the invasion of Iraq ' was also Saudi in origin, the U.S. probably had more reason to attack Saudi Arabia than Afghanistan.
Yet here the U.S. remains, mired in 'never ending war' against one of Saudi Arabia 's chief rivals in the region. The U.S. citizenry supplies the bodies and the money, and the Saudis (among others) get to oversee the spoils, in exchange for letting the U.S. leave even more people in the region to duck bullets if needed. (These bullet-duckers inhabit areas called 'military bases.') Such a deal. OK, so I'm no military strategist, but it would seem, to the novice, the outsider, that innocent person with a pulse and an IQ just above a cumquat, that invading another country in the Persian Gulf would be a little, well, stupid.
This is particularly clear when one examines a few relevant facts, such as: a) the U.S. has failed to achieve, by even the most modest measure, the bulk of the (public) pre-war goals for the Iraq invasion; b) the U.S. is pretty much out of bodies with which to supply the current war; and c) the U.S. citizenry is overwhelmingly against continuing in Iraq. Unless there were some other, higher goals, some secret goals that were not publicly noted, I'd say our leaders are batting close to zero with this particularly invasion.
Given this 'data,' what does one of President Bush's chief advisers suggest? Let's invade Iran too. What is going on here? Was there a two-for-one sale on war plans at the offices of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) or something? For those who missed it, this is the think tank (I use that term loosely) that dreamed up the plan for regime change in Iraq back in 2000 or so. The document that contained that plan, entitled 'Rebuilding American's Defenses' is a tour de force in hegemonic lunacy, laced with ample quantities of megalomaniacal hubris. The actual plan the Administration followed, and many of its justifications, were taken from this document and others like it.
Even some libertarians, supposedly conversant in a philosophy that is categorically opposed to the initiation of violence, cannot seem to understand that invasions are not generally classifiable as 'self defense.' The voices of reason, in direct opposition to those apparently stricken with 9/11 Derangement Syndrome, have been swift in their reasoned responses. These warriors against illogic encourage me, and their numbers continue to swell, but I suspect the Bu'Shites won't care, even as their reign of terror draws to a close.
More depressing, I don't think the message has reached the chief contenders for 'the big chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ' like it should have by now. One thing is clear, however: those who have the power of the U.S. Armed Forces at their disposal care little about logic and reason. They're just glad it's not them ducking the bullets or coming back from some hellhole missing an arm or a leg.
Kill all you want, we'll send more.
The Enablers of Lunacy
Despite my disgust for the ringleaders of this invade-a-county-every-week theatre of the absurd, there are others who are far from blame-free in this escapade. The mainstream media ( MSM ) has bought into the pageantry for far too long. The first problem, but nowhere near the last, is referring to what will happen if we leave Iraq as a 'civil war.' A civil war is an armed conflict in which parties within the same culture, society or nationality fight against each other for the control of political power, all the political power of a geographic region. This is not the case in Iraq .
The nationality, Iraqi, is artificial, created by interlopers, of which the U.S. is but one. The cultures and beliefs involved are different enough that living together is almost destined to cause conflict, unless martial law and/or a despotic ruler are in place. (Saddam Hussein was such a ruler. Remember him?) The major groups who would undoubtedly battle for control of portions of Iraq ' the Shiites and the Sunnis, and to some extent the Kurds ' would, without external busybodies, very likely decide to live in separate countries, or at least with limited interaction. They don't want total political control. They want to be left alone.
None of the groups in the region would be concerned, necessarily, with trying to control the land of the other. As such, the term civil war is misplaced. However, such a term does create the impression that the U.S. must not leave, lest all hell break loose. Lost in that simplistic logic is the fact that the creation of the Iraq of today, for the benefit of external interests ' chief among them: a single state with which to negotiate for oil ' has led directly to this situation. The solution is for those external interests to get the hell out and leave the inhabitants alone. But no, that's too easy. The cries from the Bu'Shites remain fixed and stoic, much like an old picture of John Wayne's jaw.
Kill all you want, we'll send more.
History versus Fantasy
It is also relatively apparent that the propaganda of the Bu'Shites is built around a fantasy view of American history, and how likely it is that one could set up a 'stable, American-style democracy' in the Persian Gulf . It is clear that this outcome would benefit the U.S. , particularly given the huge oil reserves ' second largest in the world ' in Iraq , but such a choice as the kind of government under which they live is a decision for the residents of the region, not those who invade from afar. (The fact that the U.S. chief ally in the region ' Saudi Arabia ' does not have a U.S. style democracy is another fascinating irony.)
From a historical standpoint, the dissimilarities between the war in Iraq and the American Revolutionary War are so large as to hopefully not require extensive analysis, but given the type of 'history' and context available on places like Faux News, maybe a little review is warranted.
The people who fought the British during the American Revolution were trying to prevent or preclude further rule by the British. The people fighting against the U.S. soldiers in Iraq ' known as 'insurgents' ' are not trying to help Saddam Hussein, or anyone like him, re-ascend to the throne. They simply want those who have invaded their land to leave. (Wait. That sounds familiar!)
Most, if not all, of the people who fought during the American Revolution ' on both sides ' came, in large part from the same place, Great Britain specifically, and Europe more generally. Almost no one fighting against the U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf came from Amerika! The U.S. is, plainly, an invader, fighting and killing people its forces traveled a great distance to shoot, for no other purpose than because someone thought the guy in charge was a threat to, well, someone. The fact that he was not, while hardly debatable, is no longer even that important, since he is, as best I can tell, dead. (How much less of a threat can he become?) Yet the battle cries from 'The Decider' ' and his band of idiots, of which John McCain seems to now be one ' remain unchanged.
Kill all you want, we'll send more.
And The Beat Goes On
So the U.S. government continues to wage war in the region. It continues to stay and kill more of the inhabitants, ostensibly until they adopt a manner of government that suits, well, the U.S. government. (The fact that the U.S. government and its allies caused the deaths of up to 500,000 people, many of them children, in the region with our sanctions was apparently unsatisfying.)
If the roles were reversed, would anyone in the U.S. call those who took up arms against an invading army 'insurgents'? Or would they be known as freedom fighters? Again, the irony is palpable.
Is it not implied by the very Constitution (and related documents) that every fighting man claims to defend that the right of self-determination is sacred? Why the hell is the U.S. in Iraq then? It certainly isn't because the U.S. government gives a crap about the Iraqis, a civil war it might leave in its wake, or any of that kind of rancid hog manure. It's quite simply because the (ostensible) leaders of the U.S. figure they would be better off if the Iraqis adopt the U.S. state-sponsored religion: the 'religion' of democracy. (Or so they say.)
Does anyone remember that saying about the pot calling the kettle black? When one examines what one is supposed to think the U.S. stands for and what the government's actions abroad ' and domestically ' indicate, one gets the impression that the pot and kettle are a little closer than name-calling would indicate. In fact, if the U.S. leaders' rhetoric about freedom is the pot and those same people's actions in the region we supposedly invaded to bring freedom is the kettle, I'd say the pot and the kettle are pretty close friends now. In fact, I'd say the pot and kettle just had triplets.
At the end of my initial Westhusing column, I asked and answered a vital question:
So who killed Ted Westhusing? ' We did. Every person who displays a 'support the troops' magnet on their car killed him. Every person who stands around the water cooler (or posts on 'the internets') about the desperate need for Amerikan intervention to stop the spread of heinous 'Islamo-Fascists' killed him. Every school official who allows the U.S. military to recruit new killers-for-hire on school grounds killed him. Every person who is not absolutely certain that a standing army has no purpose but aggression and imperialism killed him.
It seems pretty clear that every conceivable action in the Persian Gulf , except leaving, will lead to one inevitable result: more Ted Westhusings, more Pat Tillmans, and more people nowhere near as well-known who end up just as dead. It also seems pretty clear that a more appropriate magnet would say something other than 'I support the troops.'
How about something like: 'Kill all you want, we'll send more'?