I blogged on this issue last week. I had originally tried to create a video of pictures of Iraki children but, when I wasn't successful, just interspersed them in the text. For this first post see:
When nations are involved in serious events, as the United States is involved in Irak, it is incumbent upon the World to assess where the responsibility lies when things go terribly bad (even if things had gone well the invasion and occupation would still have been wrong.) That things are terribly bad in Irak is plainly obvious to everyone. The fact that over a month after General Petreus claimed that things were improving they are actually worse, with more civilian deaths, more bombing attacks, curfews in the major cities and exclusion of vehicles from Fallujah shows how distorted his claims were. As Bob Dylan famously said, "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing."
Please remember who we are talking about:
The first two pictures show physical pain. It is almost impossible for me to view these without cringing. But the third picture is worse. This child is expressing unalloyed grief. Question: Have you ever seen an American child display grief like this? Ever? I have not.
We considered some candidates for responsibility for this tragedy last time. We considered Saddam Hussein and the World/United Nations. While the first was certainly responsible for much death and misery, he was most certainly not responsible for the horror these children have experienced. Though, I am aware of the twisted logic that our leaders employ when the do say that someone like Hussein will "be responsible" if they "don't do what we demand," it is a rather specious logic. The World/United Nations is a little more culpable. But we will leave it at that.
Is the long list of American military men (and women) responsible for this child's distress? For these babies? Well, the situation gets very sticky at this point. While many of the children who have suffered in Irak have done so as the result of insurgent activity and suicide bombs, there are still many who have suffered as a result of that horrible euphemism, collateral damage.
Consider the Nuremberg trials mentioned last time. For the first time, senior military personnel were held responsibility for atrocities that were carried out by men in their command. This is incredibly important, this last point. While the actual perpetrators of horrors of that time, the soldiers and technicians who pulled the trigger or released the gas, were not usually prosecuted. (The horrors of WWII did not only occur in the death chambers or Auschwitz, but in many a village and town of the lands occupied by the Nazi Wehrmacht.)
This immediately inserts a quandary into establishing responsibility. Where do you establish the line when a military man is ordered to kill innocent civilians? This is no trivial matter. I have it from a personal source that Col Paul Tibbets has not to this day expressed remorse for piloting the Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Not only was he "following orders" he was also far removed from the carnage that occurred. This inserts a second problem with inculpating the military, mechanical warfare. Consider the Israeli pilot who dropped cluster bombs on South Lebanon. In order to establish first hand responsibility we feel you should be administering death first hand, not destroying a life a month later from an unexploded ordinance. Yet, the child is dead. And someone is responsible.
What of our leaders? What of President George W. Bush? Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney? What of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? Well, I think there is an awful lot of responsibility here. What is most frightening is that all of the just cited politicians appear to have no remorse. They do not grieve for these injured and dead children. They only talk incessantly of continuing the tragedy. Is Bush more responsible than Clinton? Only to a degree. While Bush willfully created the tragedy, Clinton, who was in a position to protest, did nothing. I am sorry, Senator Clinton, words mean absolutely nothing. Not one of these children that we have shown here is one iota better off for all your words. Did we want you to sacrifice your career to stop this horror? Absolutely. So now we know where you stand.
But, in the end, there is one more responsible party.
This has been labelled Bush's War. Do not believe this for a moment. This War belongs to every single American. But among these 300 million souls, it is we who know the real sorrow and who do nothing who bear the most responsibility. It is we who were raised believing that America was a democracy, governed by the People, that have let that reality slip from our grasp (if it was ever real) that should hang our collective heads. Someday (in the not too distant future) George W. Bush will retire to his ranch in Texas. Nothing will happen to him. He will live to be an old man and his daughters will give him grandchildren. They will live in luxury without a care in the world. Meantime: