Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"Feudin' like the Hatfields and McCoys...."

President Bush says we can't leave Iraq now because of all the American men and women who have already died in Iraq. (Interestingly, that argument doesn't even get traction in the New York Times article that first reports it). Both the NYT lead editorial and Maureen Dowd point out that this argument makes no sense. But it does, perversely. It is American foreign policy as a feud.

It was once a common-place in American political culture, to disparage the Irish and the Palestinians and Israelis, for carrying on "blood feuds" generation after generation, where the only justification for more violence and more killings was to honor those who had already been killed. We rightly condemned this as madness, and madness it was: families, communities, nations, caught up in an endless cycle of blood lust and destruction, one that was self-perpetuating because every new death had to be avenged by an even newer death. An endless cycle of violence whose only justification is that it is an endless cycle of violence.

And now the President wants to enshrine that as our foreign policy, and the justification for war. We did it to them, which made them do it to us, so now we can't stop doing it to them until they stop doing it to us. Palestine. Northern Ireland. The Hatfields. The McCoys.

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