Thursday, April 19, 2007

The monstrousness of war

should not go without comment.

Douglas Feith tells NPR the problem with the Iraq war was not in the planning, nor even in the idea that invading a foreign country was either wise or sensible. No, the problem, says "Professor" Feith, is that the Administration failed to market the war successfully. In a remarkable reversal of the Tinkerbelle/"Support our Troops" theory of war, Mr. Feith asserted (and Steve Inskeep tacitly accepted) that the only failure in Iraq has been the failure to continue to persuade the American public of the justness of the war.

Which would be remarkable enough an assertion on its own, but thanks to NPR we have the "Long View of Kanan Makiya with Kanan Makiya. Mr. Makiya's position on the war is that the failure to establish a flourishing democracy in Iraq by now is to be laid at the feet not of war planners like Mr. Feith, who imagined that kicking over the ant hill of any society would produce, not chaos, but order; no, says Mr. Makiya, the problem with the war is the political leadership of Iraq. That leadersip, says Mr. Makiya, let him down. It is Mr. Makiya who convinced Dick Cheney that the Iraqis would greet US soldiers as liberators with "sweets and flowers." The fact that this never happened is not Mr. Makiya's fault. After all, he was out of the country for several decades. In his absence, he avers, the people "changed." How was he to know?

You can listen to both stories and be struck by one thing: no mention of death. No mention of the bodies in the streets, as the Red Cross reported recently, bodies which terrify the children whose families have not yet fled the chaos that is now Iraq. No mention of the chaos that Iraq has descended into as a direct result of the idea and the execution of the US invasion. No mention of the deaths of US soldiers. No, says Mr. Feith; proper marketing would cause us to paper over all of that. No, says Mr. Makiya, the problem is the ingratitude of the Iraqi people. Responsibility for deaths, chaos, destruction, mayhem? Don't look for any acceptance of responsibility here. Mr. Feith is quite sure that, knowing what was known then, the war was both necessary and good. Mr. Makiya is quite sure the plan would have worked as he predicted, had the people of Iraq only acted as he expected. The errors are both minor, and the fault of others.

To listen to them, you'd never know people were dying in Iraq at rates that so exceed the death toll at Virginia Tech as to make the latter seem almost meaningless. To listen to Steve Inskeep in both interviews, you're left wondering why a comedian like Jon Stewart makes the better journalist.

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