Friday, April 09, 2004
Just a quickie today. I’m thinking about the competing memes running through public discourse these days.
One: Iraqis generally oppose the coalition’s occupation. The steady stream of attacks over the past year is evidence of this, and the current fighting shows that they’re getting fed up. We should leave as soon as possible (‘put an end to this illegal invasion’).
Two: Iraqis generally are happy to be rid of Saddam’s government and support the occupation and rebuilding efforts. The insurgency and recent uprising are the work of Baathist remnants and Shiites trying to block the new government and restore the former regime under a new leader or install Islamist Sharia law.
The other day in Fallujah, insurgents fired on US Marines from a mosque. Unable to draw them out, the Marines called an airstrike and the mosque was hit with either one or two bombs. Witnesses claim up to 40 civilian deaths (there has been no official announcement of the toll).
I imagine the following conversation:
“The rebels were firing from a mosque. Our people are trying to preserve their holy sites, but we can’t if they’re going to do that. It’s their fault.”
“If we hadn’t invaded their country, these things wouldn’t be happening at all. We shouldn’t be there. It’s our fault.”
I return, as I have been all week, to trying to articulate a complete argument defending the invasion. So far I’ve only addressed peripheral issues (two examples). I call them peripheral because they don’t address the main issue: this was something we chose to do, not something we were forced to do. It’s an important distinction.
I guess this wasn’t such a quickie after all. Two final questions:
Of those 40 civilian casualties, how many were noncombatants? How can you tell?
How many insurgents are we actually facing here? How many followers does this Sadr have?
Okay, four questions.
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