Thursday, October 14, 2004

Iraq, Empire, and Civilian Casualties 

One of the things that John Kerry said in the debates that I most liked was during the first debate, when he declared that the United States had no long-term interest in retaining military forces in Iraq. This is, of course, in contrast to the present administration, which is currently constructing twelve (12!) permanent bases in Iraq, in order to accomodate a deployment similar to Germany, Japan and Okinawa, or Korea. Call me an anti-imperialist, but I find this repellant and dangerous. University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole deals with this subject in his blog here.

Another subject that I unfortunately have not heard enough about from any candidate, or mainstream media in general, is civilian casualties. Every day US forces are bombing "terrorist safehouses" in Iraq, and filling hospitals with women and children. This may not headline the evening news in the US, but its consistantly the lead story throughout the Arab world. US planes killing civilians by bombing in densely populated urban areas in the coutry to which they are bringing democracy. This is NOT the way to win hearts and minds, and every day of this heavy-handed violence and destruction makes the job of "instilling democracy" in Iraq that much harder. This is what democracy looks like to them, and unless this is changed, immediately, staying the course in Iraq will be staying the course directly into a full-scale war. All it needs at this point is a Tet-style offensive to make it explode. Professor Cole has another editorial here, this one about civilian casualties and potential consequences later.

So think about George W Bush and his foriegn policy. He has made very clear that changing one's mind is comepletely unacceptable and is unwilling (unable?) to admit the mere existance of a mistake. Listening to him tonight tell the country that he wanted to "spread freedom around the world" was truly frightening, considering what he has accomplished so far.

And finally, I listened to John Kerry's closing statement in the debate tonight (about the only part I listened to; baseball was MUCH more exiting) and I have to say: the man is sincere. He really cares.


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