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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Iraq of Sacrificial Lambs

Tom Harper, blogging at Who Hijacked Our Country, has a bone to pick with some statements our President made today:
Asserting that "the stakes are worth it," Bush told reporters, "It is worth it to help Iraq succeed. It is worth it to have a democracy in the Middle East. It is worth it to show other reformers and people who want to live in a free society what is possible."
Here's Harper:
Yup, Bush really said that. The Iraqi war has been worth the billions of dollars, the tens of thousands of deaths. Easy for him to say. As long as somebody else supplies the money and the bodies, this war is well worth it.

It’s an excellent investment, as long as you’re investing somebody else’s sons and daughters.

What the hell has Bush ever sacrificed? Nobody even remotely related to Bush (or Cheney or Rove or Wolfowitz) is serving in the military. Bush and his corporate donors aren’t paying for the war. Between the endless tax cuts and the “offshoring” of more and more corporate headquarters to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, the cost of the Iraqi war is falling on those chumps who work for a living.

Our Great Leader is willing to fight to the last drop of somebody else’s blood.
It's a well-expressed sentiment, and one that's shared by many who opppose the war. The only problem is that it doesn't make a lick of sense.

Does anyone really believe that reliably anti-Bush folks wouldn't take issue with him saying that the war in Iraq has been worth it even if Jenna were a PFC? I don't. And I'm not sure what Harper, et. al. would have Bush do. He's the President of the United States - he can't put on a uniform and grab an M16 from the armorer, nor can he order any of his friends or family to enlist. And the same goes for Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, etc. (As far as Wolfowitz goes, he served his time in Iraq, whether he was in a uniform or not, so I'm not sure he should be lumped in with this group to begin with.)

As for other forms of sacrifice, the fact of the matter is that this president hasn't asked any Americans other than those serving (and their families) to make any sacrifices for this war effort, whether it's the War in Iraq or the Global War on Terror. I would argue that this has been a critical mistake, but given that most Americans these days think paying 50 cents more for a gallon of gas is cause for a revolution, I can't say I'm surprised.

None of this has anything to do with whether the War in Iraq has been worth it: that's a wholly separate issue, or at least it should be. (Although why do I suspect that if liberals supported this war they wouldn't be complaining about Bush's lack of personal sacrifice?) The question here - at least as I understand it - is whether a United States President can morally serve as Commander-in-Chief during a war he is not personally affected by. Prepositional ending aside, the response to that cannot possibly be "no" if the Republic is going to continue having a civilian serve as head of the armed forces.

Blogger Tom Harper said...

Hi, thanks for the link. I'll admit, my being against the Iraqi invasion (and most of Bush's other policies) colors my view. But there's a growing disconnect between our foreign invasions and how little they affect most Americans. If you're not in the military (or have a family member who's serving), you can pretty much go about your daily routine totally unaffected by the Iraqi war. Like you said, the price of gas will probably get more complaints than anything else.

One generation ago, three times as many members of Congress were veterans as today's number. (That figure is from an American Legion Magazine article.)

I'm glad the draft has been abolished, but the huge gap between those who are doing the fighting and the rest of the country, almost -- ALMOST -- makes me wish the draft would be reinstated so that more of the population would be affected by our foreign policy.

Also, among politicians (probably not the population at large), the conservatives who shout "Support Our Troops" the loudest are the same ones who keep voting to reduce funding for veterans' health care and benefits.

Like I say, there's a disconnect.

03:52  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

I totally agree with you about the disconnect. Unfortunately, short of reinstating the draft (which I vehemently oppose) or making military service a condition of federal elected office ala Heinlein's Starship Troopers (which wouldn't bother me much at all), I don't see what can be done about it.

And given that this is the situation as it currently stands, I just don't think you can rationally take the position that the President cannot say that the Iraqi war has been "worth it" simply because no one in his family is in the military. (Obviously you can take that position for a myriad of other possible reasons.)

Truth is, on an emotional level, and as a veteran, I don't fully disagree with you. But logically I do.

04:35  
Blogger Ken Grandlund said...

Bush said, "It is worth it to show other reformers and people who want to live in a free society what is possible."

Unfortunately, what they are seeing may not make them particularly anxious to join the Bush experiment. Iraq, though brutally held by a thug, at least had 20th century accommodations before the war. We squandered all of those amenities to depose Saddam? Or to control the energy fields and prevent an Iraqi move away from petro dollars towards petro euros?

Had the administration used a well thought out plan for administrating Iraq after deposing the Hussein regime, perhaps there could have been a better result and vision for others to follow. But as it is, who would want to reform their country when the current situation in Iraq is the result?

14:54  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

Ken,

All excellent points.

I know they're excellent because I agree with them.

21:37  

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