February 19, 2007

What About the Good News? -- Part II

As I considered further the response posted at Antiwar.com (an otherwise wonderful and invaluable site virtually all the time), in reply to the propagandistic question, "What about the good news from Iraq?," I concluded that response is genuinely terrible in every way that matters. In terms of the moral, legal and even strategic principles involved, it assumes every wrong premise in its formulations. I have, therefore, composed my own brief reply to the same question.

I've included links to earlier essays which explain my reasons and my arguments in detail. But this answer stands on its own, and distills the essence of my approach. I truly can't make it much shorter than this:
From the standpoint of the United States, which is to say the United States government and its military (the operative entities here), there is no "good news" from Iraq, and there never can be.

Iraq did not attack the United States. Iraq constituted no serious threat to the United States. Both these incontrovertible facts could and should have been recognized by all political and military leaders before the first American soldier set foot in Iraq; they were known by many members of the public, both here and abroad. Therefore, this is a non-defensive war of aggression, one engaged in to consolidate and expand our global hegemonic role. This goal has dominated our foreign policy since the end of World War II, and is endorsed by both political parties and by all our political leaders. The same policy has earlier roots, extending back to the Spanish-American War and the U.S. occupation of the Philippines.

This policy is not one founded on voluntary cooperation between nations, but is based in significant part on brute military conquest (or on continuing actual or potential coercive influence via a global empire of military bases). It is defended by the Open Door policy, which views both economic and ideological expansion as necessary for the security of the United States. The policy is false at its foundation; no legitimate, coherent argument or moral principle can support it, or has ever supported it. As a result, all of our aggressive wars and covert interventions overseas (including in the Middle East for longer than the past half century) violate fundamental principles of conduct among nations, principles that we demand all other nations abide by while we repeatedly violate them with impunity.

Individual acts of bravery or kindness extended to Iraqis by American soldiers do not redeem the monstrous criminal acts we have committed. Those soldiers are illegitimate occupiers sent there by an aggressor nation. We have murdered more than half a million innocent Iraqis, and destroyed an entire country. In the absence of U.S. military invasion and conquest, we could praise the acts of citizens acting in their private capacity as appropriate. Here, such acts are irrelevant to the conduct of our government.

There is no "good news" from Iraq as far as the United States is concerned. There cannot be, no matter how long we remain and even if, by a series of miracles never before seen, a fully successful, "democratic" Iraq were to arise. We never had any right to be there. In terms of the moral and legal principles involved, the ultimate consequences are irrelevant to a judgment about the nature of what we have done.

We should never have been there. Get Out Now. Make what reparations we can. If we have any remaining sense of decency at all, that is all we can do -- and what we must do.