Thursday, January 25, 2007

But Look Here: Iraq

I am posting this from a thoughfully written piece by Christian Caryl in the NYRB because it is all too easy to forget what it is that we are fighting for, have in the past fought for, and what the "good life" means to us. Hint: this does not describe a country that professes to want to spread "democracy" (aka the good life). This describes an utter failure of that country to fulfill the mission: (sorry, I hate to be piling on like this but this is probably the defining issue of our times and is difficult to ignore--when the vets from this war retire, will they be proud or angry for having been there? While an A for effort should be given to the troops could the same be said for those responsible for the planning?)

Small wonder, then, that the American discourse about the war usually ends up saying far more about American domestic politics than Iraq itself. Within the United States, politicians and commentators are fervently debating the issue of whether what is happening there now constitutes a "civil war." In Iraq there is no equivalent discussion that I am aware of. Such a discussion, one presumes, would be bizarrely misplaced when more than one hundred Iraqis (in a country of 29 million people) are dying each day from internecine violence. In a country of America's population, the equivalent losses would be a little more than 1,000 per day—or roughly two September 11 massacres per week. Similarly, New York Times journalist Sabrina Tavernise, who has spent much of the past three years in Iraq tracking down the views and daily experiences of ordinary Iraqis, wrote shortly after the US midterm elections that many members of Baghdad's present-day political class, though well aware of the elections, regarded them as irrelevant to the fate of their country.

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