Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Iraq War...Five Years Old and Still Going Strong

This blog is supposed to be about environmental issues--sustainable living, development, and economics, voluntary simplicity, vegetarianism, and the like. It is not supposed to be a venue to spew partisan political venom (as Publius so frequently reminds us). Protests around the country, however, commemorating the fifth anniversary of our occupation of Iraq have compelled me to bring up this contentious issue yet again.

Yesterday, in a speech delivered at the Pentagon, President Bush confidently assured the American people that the nation is at the brink of a great "strategic victory in Iraq." If this great victory is anything like the previous "victories" that we have had in this war, then we are in serious trouble indeed. Let's just look at some of the fruits that this war has borne:

  • According to recent estimates, the total costs for the Iraq war could be as high as 3 trillion dollars--funds, as we have already seen, that could be put to much better use right here in the United States.
  • Almost 4000 American soldiers have been killed since the war began and 29,395 have been wounded.
  • Over 1 million Iraqis--many of them children and teenagers--have died as a result of this war. 2.4 million Iraqis (approximately 20% of Iraq's prewar population) are now refugees to more "stable" countries like Jordan and Syria. So much for making life better for the average Iraqi!
  • Our failure to succeed in Iraq has emboldened our enemies around the world. Iran now is poised to be a major player in Middle Eastern politics, and Islamic extremist groups are gaining power in Egypt, Palestine, and Pakistan.
  • The Bush administration's incompetent prosecution of the war has made us seem like a "paper tiger" to many nations, like Iran, who previously would have been unwilling to thwart our global interests.
  • Our all too facile use of torture and "extraordinary rendition" has caused us to lose our credibility and moral standing among our allies in Europe and around the world.

With "successes" like these, I would hate to see what failure in Iraq would look like....

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

There is another aspect of this war that is rarely discussed. Our tolerance for specific culturally sanctioned types of violence--whether it is the violence of an unjustifiable war in Iraq, the violence of the mass slaughter houses that "produce" our meat, or the environmental violence caused by programs like mountaintop removal--does nothing more than create a climate in our society in which people ultimately become completely desensitized to violence in general. Only by rejecting violence in all its forms, and adopting an ethic of peacefulness--the kind of ethic that comes right out of the Gospels--can we hope to create a world in which human beings can live sanely with one another.

Stopping the war in Iraq would be the first step towards this end. But it is only a first step. As Will Tuttle writes in his new book, The World Peace Diet, we also need to consider the impact of things like our food choices on the levels of violence in our society. If we are willing to cram animals into filthy feeding lots, pump them full of antibiotics and growth hormones, and then brutally butcher them just so we can have the satisfaction of being able to enjoy a juicy steak or piece of chicken, is it any wonder that we have so little trouble killing innocent women and children in Iraq?


  1. Fix the typos!!!

  2. What typos anonymous?

  3. stop killing so many animals just people can have food to eat.

  4. This is a bunch of propaganda. Everyone knows that Saddham Hussein was a threat to peace in the Middle East and had to go. I also find your idea that meat-eating contributes to violence in our society highly dubious.

  5. This blog discusses the unjustified Iraq war. Nothing was mentioned about the global war on terrorism, or the attacks on 9/11. The US declared war on terrorism shortly after the attacks took place; to me that declaration of war was extremely justified. I believe that the government explained reason for going into Iraq, the search for weapons of mass destruction, makes the war unjustified. However I also believe that US military action in Iraq in playing a huge part in our war on terrorism, and that is where the war is justified.
    It was made mention that the total estimated cost of the war to be about $3 trillion, I would speculate that this is an average cost for a war. War is not cheap, fuel, ammunition, medicine, vehicles, man power; these are just a few of expenses. Sure we could put this money towards health care, homeless, and other beneficial programs; but this money is being spent to protect our country from further attacks from terrorists.
    Casualties are a part of war, if there is war there will be casualties. 4,000 American lives have been lost, 29,395 others wounded; these are horrifying numbers but looking back in history this number is extremely miniscule. In the world wars, Korea, Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of American lives were lost in each conflict alone. Casualties are expected in war, but what isn’t expected is what the American home front is doing to our troops. Our troops are over seas putting their lives on the line for two reasons, and two reasons alone; that is to fight for the person next to them and fight to protect freedom in America. The average service member doesn’t fight for the politics behind the war, they fight for what they believe in; they fight for each other, they fight for us. By saying the war is unjust, and implying that our soldiers are unjust is the highest disgrace we can put on our troops, they are over there putting their lives on the line for us; we need to support them.
    War in its nature is the most violent event known to man, has always been, and always will be. There is no way to take the violence out of war, however we can place morality into it by not torturing captured prisoners. We must follow the rules of the Geneva Convention, even if the other side does not; we must hold our moral high ground. It was stated that our troops have “so little trouble killing innocent women and children”, has the author of this blog ever spoken to a soldier who has had to kill a child? If he/she did they would know that these soldiers have serious psychological issues, many of them will never be the same, because they have so much trouble excepting what they have done. There have been documented cases of children walking into our wartime hospitals seeking care, or walking up to our troops to say hello, and than blowing up killing everyone surrounding them. Our culture protects the lives of women and children with every effort, other cultures, such as in Iraq do not; many children and women are fighting at the front line and our respect for women and children’s lives is used against us. How can we tell who is innocent and who has a bomb strapped to their chest?


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