It Worth It?
by Laurence M. Vance: David
E. Hickman, R.I.P.
Would you sacrifice
your firstborn son to establish a democracy in country that had
a dictatorship? How about giving up your son to effect a regime
change? What about exchanging your son to end the oppression of
minorities? How about trading your son in return for a country holding
I don’t know
of any American mother or father that would do such a thing. I wouldn’t
give a finger from one of my sons to do any of these things. Some
Americans, however, wouldn’t mind it if some other American’s
son came back from some foreign war in a box with only a finger
that was recognizable – just as long as it wasn’t their son.
Now that the
war in Iraq is officially over, I keep hearing from apologists
for the war about how it was worth it. I keep hearing that because
Saddam Hussein is gone, Iraq has a Constitution, Iraqis have freedom,
and Iraq holds elections that all the death and destruction was
worth it. "We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant
Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people,"
Obama told the troops at Fort Bragg. "I think the price
has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important
region of the world," said Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta. Of course, none of Panetta’s three sons died in Iraq.
it’s all true – and then some. Suppose it’s even better than anyone
could have imagined. What if Iraq is now a model democracy for the
rest of the world? What if Iraq now has a constitution that rivals
our own? What if there is now no more sectarian violence in Iraq?
What if Iraq now has a free market? What if Iraq is now an American
ally? What if Iraq is now a friend of Israel? What if Iraqis now
have freedom of speech and freedom of religion? What if Iraq now
respects the rights of women and minorities? What if all Iraqi children
are now in school? What if Baghdad
is really the best city on earth instead of the worst?
Would it now
be worth the life of your son? Can you look your son in the face
and tell him that you would have sacrificed him to bring about these
changes in Iraq? And if your son had the misfortune of dying in
Iraq, how do you think he would feel if he could now hear you say
that his death was worth it?
There are a
total of 4,484 American sons (and daughters) who died in Iraq. Some
of them came home in one piece in a flag-draped coffin; others came
home in a box of unidentified fragments and were dumped
in a landfill. Hundreds of thousands of Iraq War vets suffer
from PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. Many thousands more are missing
an arm or a leg – or combinations thereof. Hundreds of vets will
need a lifetime of medical and/or psychiatric care. Hundreds have
as will hundreds more.
there are the thousands of Iraqi defenders (remember, we invaded
them) killed, the many thousands of civilians killed, the 1.2 million
Iraqis displaced, and the 1.6 million Iraqis made refugees, not
to mention the horrendous destruction of infrastructure.
But, of course,
none of this matters since these are just dark-skinned foreigners
who speak a difficult language, worship a strange god, and wear
towels on their head. And besides, they are all terrorists anyway,
or would grow up to be one.
So, even though
Iraqis paid a terrible price for their "freedom," let’s
just focus on America and Americans.
I don’t think
it was worth one drop of blood from one American soldier to bring
about anything "good" that happened in Iraq. Not a drop
of blood, not an injury, not a headache.
matter if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It doesn’t matter
if Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. It doesn’t matter if Iraqis
were not free. It doesn’t matter if women in Iraq were oppressed.
It doesn’t matter if Iraq was a threat to its neighbors. It doesn’t
matter if Iraq was not a friend of Israel. It doesn’t matter if
Iraq was not pumping enough oil. It doesn’t matter if Saddam Hussein
gassed his own people. Nothing that was going on in Iraq mattered.
States is not the policeman, fireman, security guard, social worker,
mediator, babysitter, guardian, manager, or overseer of the world.
Any American concerned about anything going on in Iraq should have
gone there and put his own life on the line and on his own dime
instead of expecting other Americans to expend their blood and treasure.
I have consistently
maintained these views since the beginning of the Iraq War. Yet,
although I am the one who didn’t want the drop of one American soldier
spilled in some senseless foreign war, I am the one who has been
labeled un-American and unpatriotic; I am the one who is said to
be unsupportive of the troops and a traitor.
The next time
some armchair warrior, some warvangelical, some member of Congress,
some reich-wing nationalist, some bloodthirsty conservative, some
warmongering Republican, some red-state fascist, some neocon, or
some theocon beats the drums for war – like they are doing regarding
Iran right now – tell him to put his son in uniform, put him on
the first plane overseas, and tell his son what a noble cause it
is that he is being sent to die for. Let him tell his son how much
his death will be worth it. And if he doesn’t think it worth the
death of his son, then it is not worth the death of any other American’s
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking
the Good War. His latest book is The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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