Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Silence of the Dems

Christopher Hitchens has written about the silence of the Peace Movement when it comes to actually..., you know..., doing something more that pounding drums.
...may I propose some ways in which those who don't want to be associated with Michael Moore, George Galloway, Ramsey Clark, and the rest of the Zarqawi and Saddam apologists can make themselves plain? Here are four headings under which the anti-war types could disprove the charge of bad faith.
He lists the four things:
  1. Promote the ban on land mines.
  2. Human shields to protest the tageting of Iraqi civilians by terrorists.
  3. Reaffirm the condemnation of sanctions against Iraq.
  4. Re-start the drive to allow homosexuals to serve in the US armed forces.
I don't have much to say about number four. This seems to be kind of tacked onto the whole Iraq thing, like a senator placing an earmark for his home state in a highway appropriations bill.

But look at number one. Remember Princess Di? Patron saint of the tabloid? She was making some waves, lending her image to a very large movement to ban the use of landmines. As Hitchens points out, news about the ban has been displaced by news of casualties caused by terrorists using IEDs which are homebrew land mines.

And look at number two. What about those crazy human shields? Weren't they loveably kooky? Yep, they hung around Bagdad until it looked like the shooting was really about to start, then, "Oops! Sorry guys, but I've gotta get back for a....a.... drum circle! Yeah, that's the ticket! I've gotta get back to my drum circle and help drive that evil Chimpy McHallibushitler outta office. Email me!"

And number three. The lament of some, back in the 1990s was that the sanctions against Iraq were causing the death of half a million children, between 1991 and 1998. The alternative to war wasn't some utopia where, "They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles. " It was a totalitarian regime where death was brutal and common.

What do these three things have in common? I think that they show that the "Peace" movement isn't primarily concerned with peace. It's concerned with a desperate attempt to delegitimize the actions of people with whom they have style issues at the cost of suffering and misery of people that they don't want to acknowlege.

1 comment:

KH66 said...

On land mines: IEDs do usually take that form, and we can all stipulate that they're wicked things, but in his keenness to unmask anti-war hypocrisy Hitchens focuses on a weirdly subsidiary evil. He asks anti-war types to prove their innocence by focusing on the danger that, in the midst of a horrific civil war, some civilians might be accidentally hurt by leftover IEDs.

What was the anti-land mine campaign about? Mostly the millions of antipersonnel mines, largely left over from long-ended conflicts, that continue to pose a threat to civilians, many tens of thousands of whom (35K in Cambodia) have been maimed by unintended, automatic detonations.

The situation in Iraq is different. The numbers are several orders of magnitude lower. (I've got no reason to doubt Hitchens' reference to dozens deployed every day.) IEDs mostly are detonated by intentional action (electronically or mechanically), not by automatic trigger. They’re notorious because they’re used to intentionally kill American soldiers, not because they accidentally maim civilians. To the extent they do kill civilians, it’s overwhelmingly by design; the problem in Iraq is purposeful killing by a variety of means, not the danger that some much smaller number might be accidentally killed by a specific kind of weapon.

The idea that moral consistency requires that anti-war types show more focused concern for Iraqi civilians accidentally killed by land mines than for the much larger class of all civilian casualties is already so morally bizarre that Hitchens mostly reveals the phoned-in quality of his indictment.

There are serious arguments about the wisdom of this war and the best way out. Maybe the anti-war types are wrong. But the fact that they haven't focused in particular on the danger that civilians may accidentally detonate IEDs his hardly a sign of bad faith.

More, the fact that at this late date Hitchens should be so focused on his opponents' personal moral qualities makes one wonder how far he himself has come to regard the fate of the Iraqis as a hobbyhorse, significant above all for its bearing on his own domestic vindication. Tu quoque, my bourgeois brother.

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