Saturday, March 22, 2003

On the moral incoherency of some Iraqi war protestors

I am hesitant to blog about the war or to turn this blog into a regular commentary on current events in Iraq (a task sufficiently accomplished by blogsofwar). However, there was a rather large anti-war demonstration in Manhattan today, and being in midtown at the time I had the opportunity to observe the march for a fair part of the afternoon, and in response I find myself compelled to explain why I am unwilling to join many of my friends in protesting this war on Iraq.

Regarding the "no blood for oil" signs (which I saw in abundance), I will concede that the U.S. probably harbors economic interests in Iraq, and this is to be expected. This may very well be a motivation of countries who oppose the United States and Britain as well. However, economic interests do not preclude a genuine concern for the well-being of the Iraqi people and a desire to liberate them from repression under Saddam Hussein -- a job I believe we ought to have accomplished more than a decade ago.

One furious activist tried to sell me a pamphlet announcing the arrival of World War III, informing me that our troops were "currently massacring innocents in Iraq". Granted, innocents have been inadverdently killed (as usually happens in a war), but by all appearances our military is taking numerous precautions to minimize civilian casualties.

Moreover, images of Iraqi civilians greeting troops and literally dancing in liberated towns suggest that many Iraqis may respond to the action of the United States with as much appreciation as Afghani citizens welcomed the overthrow of the Taliban last year.This, at least, was the conclusion of one former "human shield" returning from Iraq:

A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

United Press International 3/21/03

But getting to the core of this post -- I saw numerous signs denouncing Bush as a war criminal (why the overwhelming animosity towards Bush? I don't recall this level of protest when Clinton sent troops to Somalia and Bosnia). I was suprised and appalled to see signs proclaiming "Bush = Hitler" and "Bush = The real Butcher of Baghdad". I find this equasion utterly incoherent, and I wonder how it is possible for protestors to arrive at such a conclusion, especially after reading and hearing about the atrocities committed by Saddam and his sons.

I have no illusions about the number of things that are wrong in this country, and share some of the protestor's concerns regarding policies of the present administration (especially the infringement and violation of civil liberties occuring since 9/11) -- but, contrary to what I saw today, there is absolutely no comparison to the perpetual horrors that the Iraqi people have endured under Hussein. To the protestors who portrayed America and Iraq as being "morally equivalent", I'd like to point out that:

In response to such accounts of human rights abuses, I find myself asking is it enough to simply disarm Iraq and remove a potential threat against the United States with weapons of mass destruction? Or, perhaps, are we not obligated to do something more? Back in 1998, UN Human Rights rapporteur Max Van der Stoel said that human rights violations in Iraq "are one of the worst since World War Two -- comparable in gravity to crimes of the Khmer Rouge (in Cambodia) or Idi Amin (in Uganda)."

In the face of the evils that occur under Saddam, refraining from implementing a "regime change", and leaving the people of Iraq to suffer, seems to me to be nothing less than an offense against justice. And yet, in what I simply fail to understand, refraining from such action appears to be the precise wish of some (perhaps the majority?) of the protestors I saw today -- and to that I respectfully voice my dissent.

Additional Resources

P.S. Since the posting of this blog yet another "human shield" has returned from Iraq having changed his perspective.

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