In order to be clear:
Between 2 percent and 5 percent of Iraq's 27 million people have been killed, wounded or uprooted since the Americans invaded in 2003, calculates Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for International and Strategic Studies.I thought I would quote from yesterdays one-troop, two-troops, red-troop, blue-troop session in the Capitol, but it was too Seussical for excerptation. Although he's a war criminal, I almost feel badly for General John Abizaid, who sat for hours as a scapegoat for a lame duck president who nonetheless rules the foreign policy roost like a Connecticut Bourbon. The dauphin has only contributed to the scapegoating be endlessly locating the source of all decisions in Iraq in the "generals on the ground," leaving the poor sons of bitches to dangle in front of an ineffectual congress trying alternately to get a military man to disavow a policy he did not make or support purported strategic changes that he has no power to approve or deny.
"This is civil war," he said.
I declare the word of the day to be esclation. A couple of days ago in a comment thread at Jim Henley's Unqualified Offerings, a commenter called Uncle Kvetch wrote:
Every day it feels a little more like 1966.Today's Times expands convincingly on those thesis.
And Iraq looks a little more like Vietnam.
And Hillary looks a little more like Hubert Humphrey.
We are so screwed.
Speaking of theses, I'm inevitably reminded of that famous passage from Walter Benjamin's "Theses on the Philosophy of History":
A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.It is a misconception to believe that there exists a debate divisible into pro- and anti-war, at least so far as our government is concerned. Those of us who truly oppose the war, and there are very few of us, see "one single catastrophe," whereas the rest of the participants in the dishonestly named "debate" percieve--and seek to own--a chain of events, whose progress from one point to the next supports or indicts a policy, whatever that policy is, and the policy itself is no more or less than the initiation and execution of a new progression whose claimed purpose is extrication from a catastrophe that most see not as unitary but as incidental and discrete, a momentary result of poor planning or poor execution or poor concept.
When I say that there are very few who truly oppose this war, I mean that I do not include among true war supporters the majority of supposed dissenters who insist on the historical peculiarity of the Iraqi conflict. The less quoted but perhaps more relevant portion of Benjamin's essay is just prior to his paragraph on the Angelus Novus:
The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the "state of emergency" in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are "still" possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge--unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.There is an argument that those of us who advocate for withdrawing immediately and swiftly from Iraq are also presenting a mere prescriptive: that withdrawal, too, is a kind of policy. That is probably true. Likewise, it is true that we falsely name this withdrawal as a kind of progress, even though it's perfectly clear that the piling-up of wreckage will continue with or without our presence in Iraq.
But the eggs are scrambled, so to speak, and that's a process you can't undo. The crime was committed. The wreckage can't be unpiled. The catastrophe is. It is only the realization that even in escape there is no escaping what we've done that will buffer the gale blowing us backwards.
UPDATE: That's escalation, you jerk.