Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blaming the victims

Billmon goes all wobbly and maudlin over our collective lack of cojones, which caused us to permit the unleashing of the horrors of genocide in Iraq:

We were all complicit. I was complicit. Because I was afraid -- afraid to sacrifice my comfortable middle class lifestyle, afraid to lose my job and my house, afraid of the IRS, afraid to go to jail.

Well, sure. I suppose what we should have done, in hindsight, is take to the streets in protest. After all, that's what our parents did in the 60's, right? Burning draft cards, holding mass rallies, Abbie Hoffman speechifying...

Brought that Vietnam War to a swift termination, didn't it? (News flash: it didn't.)

I see more and more of this now. We Americans who oppose the war but don't get out there and march in the streets and lob eggs at City Hall and pelt cops with rocks and garbage are the new "Good Germans." We are as much to blame for the deaths of 660,000 Iraqis and counting as the Sunni death squads and Shia militias who pulled the triggers, swung the swords, and knotted the ropes. All of that blood is directly on our hands.

Bullscheiss. That blood is not on my hands. I didn't vote for these bastards, I didn't formulate the ridiculous plans that ignored the postwar period, I didn't lie to the American people about the danger we were in. The last time I looked, advocating armed insurrection against the United States was the very definition of treason, written in black ink in the Constitution, and the punishment prescribed is death. Surely we know enough by now to realize that mere marching in the streets would not be sufficient to change the President's mind about his Iraq policy. So short of futilely taking up arms against my own country, what do you propose I could have done to avert the catastrophe?

No, I don't accept the responsibility for this. The difference between me and the "Good Germans" is that I am not actively aiding and abetting my government in its lunacy. I am not denouncing my neighbors, I am not keeping silent in my public statements, I am not trying not to know what is going on 10 miles down the road or halfway around the world. That is a critical difference and we must not lose sight of it. If we are responsible for genocide, which I also deny, it was not instigated by me. It was perpetrated by the galactically irrational people we have allowed to be elected to run our country.

660,000 dead Iraqis is indeed a tragedy. And I don't deny that by removing the civil structures (such as they were) that had been in place in Iraq under Saddam and not replacing them with equally strong structures of our own, we left a power vaccuum that could be filled by these bloodthirsty gangs. It is South Central L.A. writ large. But in my opinion it was only a matter of time before this happened anyway. These deaths, this horror, was going to occur without our having to lift a finger. It happened in Rwanda, it happened in Somalia, it happened in Ethiopia, it is happening right now in Sudan. Armed sectarian violence occurs all the time without our involvement, and in every case there are tragedies and noncombantant deaths and stories of atrocities to chill the soul. The only difference, the ONLY difference, is that in Iraq our American troops are stuck in the middle of it. The Iraqi Shia in the south have always wanted to go after the Sunnis in the center and west. The Kurds in the north have always wanted their own autonomous state. These things were GOING TO HAPPEN. All we did with our blundering was move up the timetable a little.

Blame me as a genocide denier if you want. It's a (theoretically) free country. But our troops didn't pull the triggers (not all 660,000 of them), and they aren't swinging the swords. The genocide, if there is one, is on the hands of the Sadrists, Sunnis, and Kurds doing the killing. Not us, and not me. I am a victim of this administration's arrogant incompetence too.


Laurila said...

You may wash your hands, but your comparisons with Germans living in a dictatorship is childish.

And, at the end of the day, just like all (surviving) Germans paid the price - so will all Americans.

You can think this is unfair.
Many Germans surely did.

Deep Thought said...

This is good. I wish you would post more insightful stuff like this.