Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Cognitive dissonance

Even some of my more sophisticated friends still believe in the myth that the US is presumptively the "good guy" in international relations, including in the war in Iraq--at least as compared to the "terrorists" who blow up innocent civilians, churches, hospitals and so forth just for effect. I know it's hard to believe, but the US is no different in war-making and in "peace" than any other empire. We've ruled the world strictly in accord with our own self-interest, always, and most particularly in our invasion of Iraq. That war is a moral outrage in addition to being in direct violation of international law, as clear a violation as the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.

Now we have laid seige to Fallujah, bombing it and shelling it and taking it by force with overwhelming numbers of troops. In that process, we have bombed hospitals and more than sixty mosques, killing civilians and destroying the electrical and water supplies in order to force the inhabitants to surrender.

Oh, I am told, this is different from "terrorism." In terrorism, the perpetrator singles out civilians and innocents for effect, as a weapon of fear and intimidation, as if the dead civilians care whether they die on purpose or as "collateral damage." To which I say, hogwash. We are the invader in Iraq. We have caused all the killing, that which is done on purpose as well as the accidental destruction. Indeed, we are worse than they are, absolutely so. How hypocritical it is to contend that, having invaded Iraq, we are allowed to complain that the insurgents' choice of weapons isn't as gentlemanly as ours, when we're killing more of them than they are of us and when we started the killing in the first place.

It hurts to recognize it, but we are the bad guys in Iraq, and are worse than terrorists. We are warmongering imperialists, the evil force on the planet, whose weapons are more powerful and have killed more innocents than theirs, by multiples. In law, if one knowingly sets in motion a chain of events that leads to a predictable result, one is liable for that result as fully as if he intended it. We are liable for all the deaths in Iraq, by whatever means they have come to pass, as fully as any terrorist, and with the same moral standing.

And if you don't believe me, believe Riverbend.

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