here's an editorial that i wrote for a NY Times forum on the iraq occupation. it was longer, but the forum had a max length of 4000 characters. it forced me to pair things down a bit and get rid of unnecessary words. it's good - i need to learn to get to the point sooner...
a war for democracy?
i cannot understand, from a historical perspective, how the bush administration believes that by invading another country and pummelling it into submission it can create a setting fertile for democracy. does it plan on killing every "insurgent" or "rebel" it comes across? these people have families and friends. how much more likely is it that new insurgents will be created by the killing of the old ones?
we use words like ‘rebel’, ‘insurgent’, or even ‘terrorist’ as ways to dehumanise others and make them worthy of mortal retribution, but they are still people with families and stories about how they came to be where they are. in iraq, the reality is that people are killing people, but in the west, as long as we see them as less than righteous and our gas and shopping prices remain the same, we don't seem to mind. the conflict is "over there" with some backward fundamentalist towel-heads who need to be smacked upside the head to understand what a great thing democracy is.
what if america was invaded? what if china, russia and germany felt that the united states was evil and took unilateral action to shut down its program to manufacture weapons of mass destruction and free us from the rule of our war-mongering president. what if, as a result, most of the country was bombed and shot up until the infrastructure collapsed and foreign forces occupied us. would there be american resistance? absolutely. would we be labelled as insurgents and rebels by the occupying force? without a doubt. would we feel just cause to see the occupiers as invaders rather than liberators? more than likely. would we hate those who killed our families and friends? yes. so what is the difference between us and the people in iraq? why can't most americans see the other side of the story?
in the movie, "three kings" during the interrogation scene between mark wahlberg's character, troy, and the iraqi soldier, the soldier asks him how he would feel if he bombed and killed troy’s newborn daughter like the US bombed and killed the soldier's year-old son. troy answered, "worse than death."
many of the iraqi people have been bombed, shot, maimed and terrorised, their homes destroyed or damaged, their safety threatened or taken away completely, and their families fractured by death. their infrastructure barely functions, and they are being occupied by a force that does not understand them nor even like them. despite this, i still hear americans ask "why do they not feel grateful?"
if the expression of true democracy is "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" then how can you create that with death, occupation and the destruction of stability? some might say that the end justifies the means, but others would reply that the means make who we are in the end.
the question is this: is the united states a true democracy that fosters freedom and cooperation through egalitarian means, or are we a self-serving nation with nationalistic imperatives that uses democracy as a storefront to sell our own agenda to the rest of the world?
before the invasion if iraq, i would have had a much more optimistic view. since then, however, the unilateral action taken by the US based on trumped up lies about WMD and the subsequent economic costs and loss of human lives as well as the thriving of terrorist networks and a reduction of world economic and political stability, i would say that the great democracy that was america is at least unwell, if not worse, a shadow of its former self.
my hope is that by establishing some discussion we can re-create the moderate milieu that bush’s administration has all but destroyed and re-establish a spirit of cooperation more characteristic of democracy. then rather than live in a world of polar opposites that undermine each other and wreak havoc through acts of destruction, we can work towards a world that has an enduring stability fostered by a sense of respect for human life and the sanctity of democratic principles.