April 01, 2004

a firm grip on reality

I had wanted to write something ironic or perhaps witty in honor of the holiday, however the headlines do not permit such trivialities.

What surprises me most about the murder and subsequent desecration of the bodies of four American civilians in Iraq, is that people are surprised. Don’t misunderstand me: I am as horrified as anyone. I am just not surprised.

I’m betting some of those young boys involved in the desecration had fathers, brothers and uncles killed by Americans over the course of two wars. How exactly did we expect them to feel about Americans? There are still a lot of Germans and Japanese that don’t care for us very much either, and I’m betting there are a bunch of people my age who aren’t too placid in their feelings toward Vietnamese people either. And these people are still acting in the heat of the moment.

My first reaction to the news reports that the incident could be pivotal for the November Presidential elections was a disgusted huff. After all, we have a moral obligation to be there and set things right at this point. But, as I reflect on it, perhaps that obviously real possibility that the election could be affected would be a just and fair outcome.

Fair because it displays in a particularly graphic way the cost of the lying and poor preparation for Shrub’s War for Daddy’s Honor. There has been much talk about the deception of the American people and based on what I’m hearing, there was more than a little deception going on within the administration with regard to the post-war planning. It seems justified that if you can’t plan it any better than this, you should be thrown out as a penalty for the botched attempt.

Of course my fear is losing track of the moral obligations to these people in a rush to pull out of Iraq. If we pull back now, we may as well paint a target on our backsides and line up for our punishment because it will be both deserved and directly forthcoming. Our hope going forward is to stand firm and let our deeds match our words for a change. Until we demonstrate the courage of our convictions to the Arab street over a sustained period of time, there is little hope of softening the animosity built up over decades of exploitation.

And speaking of courage, how about those “pixilated” images and the calls by the current administration for “responsible reporting”? Hey, I don’t like the images either, but we need to look and not grow faint. Collectively, we must understand the risks we are undertaking with ventures in war and nation building.

This is reality. Grisly, ugly, reality.

I was somewhat prescient when I said in my February 26, 2004 post entitled “passionate pondering”:

Apparently, we don’t like blood and gore unless it is in fictional accounts or computer games.

As I said then, we need to get over our squeamishness if we are to live up to our self-proclaimed status as the “Land of the Brave”. Our very aversion to the images fuels terrorism. Have no doubt that our imputed cowardice gives courage to our enemies. While we have put Vietnam behind ourselves and moved on in our uniquely American short-lived memory way, that episode is still current events for the rest of the world.

In short, my word for the American people is this: get a grip.



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