Monday, December 05, 2005

Second Response to Hareega

Today Reega posts terrible pictures of Iraqis children in the aftermath of terror attacks. She asks:

Will these Iraqi children remember the day people were allowed to vote more than the day they lost their parents ?

Will they think of this was as a war on terror or a war of terror?

This war has transformed each of these children to a potential "Bin Ladin" when they grow up.

Can't Americans stop singing "we didn't start the fire" for just one day?

This is my response:

If you read my blog, especially the entries starting with Why is the U.S. in Iraq?, you would see that this American doesn't think the question applies. It isn't that "we didn't start the fire"; it's that Iraq was already run by a terrorist before the U.S. invaded and civilian casualties have dropped by a factor of at least five (and are still dropping) since. It's just that photographers can now snap away at the remaining carnage with far less fear for their lives.

Nevertheless, your point is a good one. But in a sense this dilemma doesn't apply. I agree with your characterization: Iraqis get democracy in exchange for U.S. and Iraqi soldiers killing Al-Qaeda. But had America invaded with three times the force -- enough to suppress any "insurgency" -- the long-run shame of Iraqis may have generated the destructive impulses you fear.

Al-Qaida would then have stayed away from Iraq and attacked elsewhere, rather than slowly eroding its strength through fighting in Iraq. Only a few years ago, Al-Queda planned to devastate Jordan with chemical attacks that would have killed tens of thousands. Last month's attack accomplished only a fraction of this carnage -- and the attackers were relatives of terrorist leaders, a sure sign that the noose is tightening. Imagine how much worse Al-Qaida's attacks would be around the world if the U.S. never invaded Iraq in the first place.

Since the U.S. force is small, it can only succeed in establishing peace and democracy with active Iraqi participation, the Iraqis can take much pride in their accomplishments -- but as the world can see, the children are being attacked by the terrorists as a result of U.S. sensitivity to these matters.

I expect neither excessive "love" nor hatred from Iraqis; both Americans and Iraqis are acting out of self-interest. I can hope the children who survive these horrors will have the opportunity to mature in a free society and thus may be free from the destructive impulses you fear. The children of the Holocaust do not dream of killing Germans.

Do you have any better answers, Reega?

[Photograph added 12/8/05]

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