Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't move, or the Iraqi gets it!

Spotty, you know that Katie had a new column yesterday entitled What happens when America leaves? Just ask S. Vietnamese.

Yeah, so?

You haven't written anything about it.

Hadn't planned to, grasshopper.

Aw, c'mon Spotty. There are some people who expect and want you to comment on Katie's column.

As the great philosopher king Mick Jagger said, grasshopper, you can't always get what you want.

He also said that sometimes you just get what you need. Maybe there are people who need you to comment on Katie.

Oh, all right.

Katie's column linked above contains what is known among lawyers as the "parade of horribles." She invites her readers to imagine the terrible things that will happen if we withdraw from Iraq, based upon Katie's doubtful understanding of what happened in Vietnam after the last helicopter departed the American Embassy compound in 1975. Her implicit argument is that if you counsel withdrawal from Iraq, you will have blood on your hands. Assisting Spot in preparing a response is Bjarne Pedersen of Shoreview who penned this letter in the Strib today:

In response to Katherine Kersten's Oct. 11 column "What happens when America leaves? Just ask S. Vietnamese": Yes, we did leave South Vietnam after 10 long years, and with 50,000 plus of our fine young men and women dead, and many more wounded.

That war too was a trumped-up war, as admitted by Secretary Robert McNamara years later. The Bay of Tonkin incident was staged and led to the expansion of American troops in the region. Our leaders during that conflict also failed us, and got us involved in a deadly conflict without cause.

The South Vietnamese government was corrupt and ineffective, yet we supported it like so many other dictators we have stood behind because of their perceived usefulness to U.S. foreign policy. As a matter of fact, Saddam Hussein was supported by the United States during its war with Iran in the 1980s, and he was hailed as our friend. Yet, he was no less a dictator and a threat to the United States then, than when we decided to blame him for weapons of mass destruction.

Kersten draws a parallel to the two wars, Vietnam and Iraq, and the possible consequences if we were to pull out of this current conflict in Iraq. Yes, there probably will be some consequences to our withdrawal from Iraq, and yes, we are to blame for much of what has happened in that country too. It is easy for conservative columnists to forget that we attacked Iraq without cause, and killed a whole bunch of people (estimates to date run as high as 100,000). This has probably irritated the victims who survived and their families, and we should expect them to have a little animosity toward us for bringing this upon their country.

So, when I read articles by columnists such as Kersten, I am left to wonder where their heads are [Spot has an idea where!]. Do we just dismiss the facts, and move forward? What is next, attack Iran, North Korea or any other perceived threat to our country? I'm left with the feeling they are clueless, or completely fail to see through the carnage and tragedy of this trumped-up war.

When the Germans left Russia and France during the Second World War, collaborators were dealt with harshly, too. Katie, it's one of the things that the administration should have taken into account before embarking on the entire foolish exercise. The blood won't be on the hands of those urging withdrawal: it will be on the hands of those responsible for starting the war in the first place, including everyone on the right wing cheer squad who agitated for it. Oh, weren't you in favor of starting the war, Katie?

The real solution is to permit those Iraqis who are in danger for collaboration to emigrate to the US, but the right wing doesn't like that solution, either. Just think of all the Iraqi restaurants it will spawn!

One of the things that Bjarne does in his letter is to low ball the Iraqi deaths caused by the invasion. By some estimates, many more have died as a consequence:

Three misattributed clusters were excluded from the final analysis; data from 1849 households that contained 12 801 individuals in 47 clusters was gathered. 1474 births and 629 deaths were reported during the observation period. Pre-invasion mortality rates were 5·5 per 1000 people per year (95% CI 4·3–7·1), compared with 13·3 per 1000 people per year (10·9–16·1) in the 40 months post-invasion. We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654 965 (392 979–942 636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2·5% of the population in the study area. Of post-invasion deaths, 601 027 (426 369–793 663) were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire. [italics are Spot's]

The 650,000 figures is as of July of last year, more than a year ago.

If it is Katie's point that we bear responsibility for the maelstrom we created, Spot agrees. But it is something else to argue that it will be worse if we leave. It's been plenty bad while we we're there.

How's that, grasshopper?

Thanks, Spotty.

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