In Kathleen Parker’s Sunday (7/17/05) column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Modern Muslims must root out the evil”, Ms. Parker asserts that “moderate Muslims must be unrelenting in eliminating - not just condemning - Islam’s bad actors.” If that is so, then it also follows that Americans must be unrelenting in eliminating our own bad actors. Of course, our bad actors don’t support suicide bombers. They don’t have to because they have airplanes to drop the bombs, but the civilians are just as dead and their friends and families are just as grief-stricken. Whether they were killed by a stray bomb, or by a scared American soldier pulling the trigger a little too quickly at a checkpoint, or indeed by punitive sanctions during the 90s that never hurt Saddam Hussein but denied food, medicine and safe drinking water to the Iraqi population, far more innocent people have been killed by the US government than by terrorists.
You may argue that this is war and different standards apply. If so it is a war that was never declared. Congressional authorization was based on deliberate lies by an Administration that was determined, as the Downing Street Memo tells us, to make the intelligence fit the predetermined policy. The President’s justification for the war has changed with the political climate. Whether he is fighting to eliminate WMDs or to bring democracy to the Middle East or to “fight the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them here”, it doesn’t hold water.
If the US is fighting a war, then it follows that its enemies are also fighting a war. Al Quaida issued a declaration of war against the United States several years ago and they refer to their attacks as military operations. I don’t have any special insight into their thoughts but perhaps they see their attacks as similar to, on a much smaller scale, the strategic bombing of English, German and Japanese cities in WWII by all sides. In that case, civilians were seen as participants because of their support for their government’s war effort and the hope was that civilian casualties would undermine that support.
According to this morning’s paper, 1,763 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Thousands more have been injured and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and injured. The occupation is widely hated and is used as a justification for continued insurgent attacks. The situation continues to deteriorate. Those who hope for a civil war are winning the battle. One can’t help but think that the American occupation is making things worse. Surely there must be an alternative but George Bush’s insistence that he cannot possibly have been wrong in any way stands in the way of finding a way out. Most Americans agree that the war was a mistake. Many have come to the conclusion that the road to peace starts with American withdrawal. That will undercut the appeal of the insurgency and open the door to negotiation among Iraqis. Perhaps peacekeepers can be recruited from other Arab countries as a transitional measure. One thing is certain. It is time to bring our troops home.
Those of us who believe this have an obligation not just to condemn this war but to act to end it. Letters and phone calls to our Senators and Congressional Representatives may prod them to action. Talking to our friends and writing letters to the editor can get more people involved. Join an organization working for peace. Demonstrate.
Go to Washington, DC for the September 24-26 massive mobilization against the war.
Bring the Troops Home.