By Greg Strange
With the same spirit of boisterous revelry that accompanied the arrival of the year 2000, the mainstream media, along with the radical antiwar crowd, has marked the arrival of the 2,000th American death in the war in Iraq. It's as if the roundness of this four-digit number imbues it with some sort of numerological significance which can be used as ammunition in the rhetorical war against the war.
But is there really any significance of the 2,000th death when it comes to the morality, legality or practicality of this war? Nope -- none, nada, zip, zilch, squat, forget about it. The number "2,000" is simply an excuse for the media and the antiwar crowd (if that's not redundant) to make noise like it was the last night of 1999.
Let's try and put the 2,000 very regrettable deaths into some kind of reasonable perspective. At the current rate of American deaths in Iraq, it would take about 70 more years to equal our total Vietnam War dead. If this is a Vietnam-like quagmire as we are constantly told, it is one with an amazingly low rate of lethality.
To gain even more perspective, each year on average in the United States 42,000 people are killed in automobile accidents. That's nearly three quarters of our Vietnam War dead every single year. By the time our dead in Iraq equals our Vietnam War dead, as noted above, roughly 2.9 million people will have died in car wrecks.
But all of those deaths will have accomplished absolutely nothing, whereas the American deaths in Iraq may very well make it possible for the Middle East to be transformed into a decent place that is finally able to adapt to modernity without the perverse side effect of being a spawning ground for apocalyptic Islamic terrorism. There are no guarantees, but if we do nothing, it's a lead pipe cinch that the Middle East goes on like it is indefinitely and everyone loses.
For the antiwar Left, harping about the 2,000th death is all about trying to convince the American public that it is the absolute ultimate proof that the war in Iraq is a hopeless quagmire, that it was illegal and immoral to begin with, that the men and women who are over there fighting are simple-minded children who were duped by lies, that Bush & Co. are the world's real terrorists, that Zarqawi and his band of butchers, bombers and beheaders are really noble freedom fighters, and that war never solved anything anyway.
And, oh yeah, it's about showing that they're patriotic Americans, too, but that their way of supporting the troops is by demanding that they be brought home from their dishonest and failed mission before one more dies needlessly.
With supporters like those, who needs enemies? It seems absurd to have to point this out, but supporters don't usually go out in a celebratory fashion and do everything they can to undermine the soldiers' mission -- that's what enemies do. As for their concern for the Iraqi people, if their demands were to be followed, Iraq would go straight back to tyranny with its concomitant rape, torture, murder and mass graves.
Here's the fundamental problem with the collective mind of antiwar liberals. They are congenitally incapable of comprehending that a war can accomplish anything good because that would violate one of their most cherished beliefs: that war -- all war, any war -- is . . . primitive. That's right, primitive.
Here's a prime illustration of what I mean. I had a conversation with a liberal antiwar friend right before the war in Iraq began. He wanted to know why there needed to be a war, so I explained all the many reasons. He listened patiently and then responded: "Okay, I see your point about how Saddam is a very bad guy and how the world would be better off if he was out of power. But isn't there some other way to achieve that? I mean, isn't war just so primitive?"
It was in the moments immediately following that utterly sincere, though astonishingly naïve, statement that I was suddenly able to see something very clearly for the first time.
"Isn't war just so primitive?" For antiwar liberals this is the crux of the matter. They see themselves as being progressive above all else and the progressive way to settle differences is through nonviolent means. But war is the ultimate antithesis of that. Therefore, war can't possibly be good for anything. It's just as simple and cut and dried as that.
Never mind that war is the only reason any part of the world is free from tyranny. Antiwar liberals simply cannot bring themselves to alter their belief that there has to be some other way for civilized societies to deal with the problems created by mass-murdering, destabilizing tyrants who recognize no moral bounds.
Here's a clue for the antiwar Left. It's not war per se that is primitive. It's the tyrannical and uncivilized societies which sometimes cause wars to be necessary that are primitive.
If antiwar liberals are truly interested in ridding the world of war, they need to forget any childish notion about ending it now or in the foreseeable future and concentrate instead on a more distant future. The best way to one day end war, or at least to make it rare, would be to ultimately democratize every country in the world. Since modern, mature democracies usually generate a reasonable level of prosperity, maintain the rule of law and are set up with a decentralization of power which prevents the rise of power-mad tyrants like Saddam Hussein, they generally have no reason to wage war against one another.
What antiwar liberals don't understand is that the war in Iraq is an attempt to move the world in that direction by beginning the democratization of a region that has been so profoundly resistant to it and as a result has been so unable to get along peacefully either with itself or with the surrounding world.
If you have any interest in the Middle East becoming a more civilized and less primitive place, there's no reason to listen to the advice of antiwar liberals since their track record for opposing totalitarianism isn't exactly sparkling. For instance, they basically had zero interest in opposing communism, an ideology which they saw as little more than an alternative lifestyle, but which in reality was an evil totalitarian force that killed over 100 million people during the 20th century.
So forget about their pathetic tantrums and protestations over the 2,000th death in Iraq. When it comes to the business of opposing evil in the world, it's fair to say that the antiwar Left's slogan should be: We just sighed and millions died.
Greg Strange's web site can be found at http://www.greg-strange.com (c) 2005 Greg Strange
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