Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sacrifice, Past and Future

In my previous post, I mentioned the perverse logic that often accompanies war by which the ultimate sacrifice by troops is only valid and honorable if it's followed by more sacrifice.

Yesterday, President Bush said the following: "And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom."

And this today from Andrew Sullivan, who's been a great read recently on other issues: "For the sake of the 2,000 who have already died; and the countless, innocent civilian Iraqis who have borne an even greater burden, let's do all we can to make this work."

This is a lazy and deceptively appealing line of reasoning that must be rejected. It is not only specious, it's dangerous---because anything less than the establishment of a utopian paradise on earth will necessarily fall short for those espousing it. This is the main reason Vietnam became such a quagmire; year after year, a succession of political and military leaders kicked the withdrawal can down the road by citing the "sacrifice that has already been made." Breaking news: in Iraq, there will always be another election. There will always be another "crucial milestone." And there will always be another "terrorist."

I don't think anyone could argue that our mission in Somalia was completed; we pulled out after the disaster in Mogadishu. Did that tarnish the heroism or diminish the sacrifice of the troops who gave their lives there? Aren't they among the most celebrated of American heroes today?

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent point.

10/26/2005 11:48 AM  
Anonymous franktex said...

I remember this quite clearly during Vietnam. Both Johnson and Nixon (as well as Westmoreland) spoke constantly about honoring the sacrifice that had already been made by not "cutting and running now." Of course, look at what it got us.

10/26/2005 11:50 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

We're trapped. We can't cut and run because that would give up Israel. Like it or not, this is the situation for the rest of our lives - and probaly our kids' lives.

I fuckin' hate it...

10/26/2005 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes one really think (click "play" in the lower right).

Larry Miller on Bill Maher (click the video) said it best.
"We need a new tactic..."

You know, all the BS coming from Bush and his talking points cronies is the spin they say today, and it is as simple as that.

Bush has said a lot of things over 6 years (I include the year he ran), and you know what, he is doing or saying the exact opposite now; anyone remember his no nation building statements. These folks say whatever works for them at the very second they are saying it regardless of facts or anyone else.

Whether we stay or leave Iraq doesn't change anything regarding our service people sacrifice, past and present. We prefer they not fight, we prefer they were alive, but we honor and thank them, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

This is what makes these statements so perverted. They are using the dead to save their own hide at this point in time. They aren't thinking about how to best solve the situation at hand, bring peace, and move on. If we look to the future, how much more money (~$6 billion/month), how many more lives (~2 /day) will be sacrificed doing the same thing with no different outcome, with no plan, no finish.

Leaving or staying doesn't changes anything; those already gone are gone, and there is nothing that is going to change that, and there is some reason, if only to wakeup Americans to what is going on. In that sense, they helped our Demoracy.

Last night on Nightline they talked about the difficult job the recruiters are having (that has to be the worse job in the world given how we got to this point, knowing the ethics of this administration). When it all comes down to it, these folks signing up will have to determine for themselves if the recruiters and our leadership is telling the truth, and if they are really protecting us. Bush will gladly sacrifice your kid.

HHHmmm, I wonder if making fun of not finding WMD shows respect for our service people... that pretty much puts things into perspective.

10/26/2005 1:09 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

I simply do not remember reading about Somalia at the time. I had a lot going on personally so I probably didn't pay attention like I should have. I had to refer to the PBS Frontline timeline to respond to this post.

Today, I am embarassed to admit how much time I spent watching the OJ trial.

Mea culpa.

There's a lot I don't know about Clinton's foreign policies.

For example, after 9/11, I found a reference to a visit to Beirut and Damascus by James Baker and Edward Djernian in June 1999 on the Mirror of the Arab Press website.

The Mirror of the Arab Press website contained news stories from the Middle East with commentary by the editor. There were at least two Lebanese news stories about Baker's visits, one of them from the Daily Star.

The Mirror editor extolled Baker as a peacemaker and took his visit as a sign of good things to come in the Middle East.

I know that, in June 1999, the last thing that James Baker wanted to do was make Bill Clinton look good. In fact, I read that, at the Bush inauguration, Clinton told Baker he would have beaten him if he had been Al Gore.

So what was the dynamic duo of Baker and Djernian up to when they visited Syria, a "rogue" nation in June 1999? Remember, Bashar Assad's father, Hafez, was still alive.

Youssef Bodansky wrote a book about the Middle East in the '90s but I don't remember the title offhand. In Chapter 17, which I specifically read, he wrote about an aborted coup by Syrian Bathists in the summer of 1999.

According to Bodansky, the Clinton administration supported the overthrow of the Assad government by Syrian Bathists but, at the last minute, in August 1999, Sandy Berger instructed the US ambassador to Syria to inform Hafez Assad about the coup as Assad was leaving Syria to attend the funeral of another Arab dignitary in, I think, Egypt.

Bodansky doesn't say but presumably the Bathist coup planners were executed or imprisoned. Nor did Bodansky, a hard right winger, mention Baker's visit.

I don't like Baker. I watched him closely during the Bush-Gore election dispute and he is a bully. He was telling Americans that Bush was going to be the next president, tough luck for anyone who thought otherwise.

I tried really hard to find out why Baker made that visit without any luck.

This was a roundabout way of saying that there is an undercurrent of events in the ME that the public doesn't know about.

10/26/2005 1:56 PM  
Anonymous grass root said...

One of the proposed budget cuts to help pay for the tax cuts, oops I mean Katrina, is to reduce Pell grants for college students. Pell grant amounts are based on financial need. One more way to reduce the standard of living for the poor and lower-middle class; your kids can't afford college. One more group of our children who have so few options left that even the military sounds like an opportunity. My daughter's friend wanted to be a nurse. A Navy recruiter told her they would station her in San Diego where she would go to college. All verbal, but she is only 18 and believed him. She never saw San Diego or a classroom. This is worse than Viet Nam.

10/26/2005 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Persist in the mission"...so that 200 will not have died in vain.

What if the mission itself is - a vanity mission? Vain, narcissistic - trying to sculpt other nations to reflect our own prideful take on our own so-called "democracy", a political form vainly self-appraised as supposedly the most perfect in the world?

This war is the definition of a war fought in vain, for almost too many reasons to count.

Not to mention - "They tried to kill my daddy." Revenge - the most hypocritical vanity of all. Sometimes necessary, but never excusable if carried to excess and left intentionally unchecked, immune from the eventual return of conscience.

10/26/2005 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freudian block above: let "200" = "2000".

10/26/2005 3:17 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

The logic of sacrifice (pain) for the sake of sacrifice (pain) is starting to bother me.

10/26/2005 3:42 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

anon, I'm pretty sure the "they tried to kill my daddy" story was b.s. The Kuwaitis dropped the case for lack of evidence.

All they ever had was a car parked on a side street packed with explosives. Supposedly, the trigger device was one used only by Iraqis. I don't know - do assassins use a signature trigger device?

The Kuwaitis had good reason to try and look heroic in the early '90s. Or, better yet, there are those in the US who had every reason to make Saddam continue to look bad.

Saddam, on the other hand, had every reason in the early '90s not to give the US an excuse to blow Baghdad to kingdom come.

I'm not making Saddam out to be one of the good guys, I'm just saying that you can't take for granted anything that comes out of the president's mouth.

Dropped for lack of evidence? Kuwait, after the Iraqi invasion?

10/26/2005 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Lord said...

'To do the same thing and expect a different result is the definition of insanity.'

Are they going to dye the fountains red, a la Iran, in a burst of patriotic fervor?

10/26/2005 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knew the axis of evil was Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rove.

Some shock and awe.

Must'n forget Bush, Abramoff, Safavian, Libby, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Franklin...

10/26/2005 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Julie Zuber said...

Thank you Anonymous for that Paul Fusco film...I bawled my eyes out but it's important for us to see.

10/27/2005 2:07 AM  
Blogger Terry G. said...

It doesn't matter whether there actually was a credible threat against Bush 41's like in Kuwait. Bush 43 believes there was, and that's enough to go on. Just another in a long line of slightly plausible reasons for going into Iraq. All of which, when taken as a whole, still aren't convincing.

Good to see a rebuttal of the "honor the sacrifice" argument from a conservative perspective.

10/28/2005 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cartoonist's representation of 2000 dead.

10/28/2005 12:49 PM  
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