Monday, December 15, 2003

It was never a quagmire...

The one apparently sane Canadian notes:

Iraq has never been a quagmire, nor even close. The death toll since formal hostilities ended in May has been serious, but pales next to the mountain of corpses piled up by Saddam's regime.

. . . .

Opponents of the war and opponents of George W. Bush tend to be one and the same, and the intensity of their dislike for the President is such that it has often coloured the picture of Iraq that the world has been served.

The trick has been to equate Iraq to Vietnam. Al Gore made a point of it last week when he threw his backing behind Howard Dean for the Democratic party's presidential nomination, describing the situation as a "quagmire" -- the emotionally loaded term everyone knows means Vietnam.

Even on the surface this is a ludicrous proposition. U.S. involvement in Vietnam lasted the better part of two decades and killed more than 58,000 American troops. At its peak the United States had 440,000 soldiers in Vietnam, and they were dying at a rate of almost 320 a week. It was a jungle country, ideal for guerrilla warfare, in which insurgents had crucial support from major powers able to easily supply them with the weapons and financial support to carry on. And even as the United States fought on, it never had a workable plan for a legitimate government that could govern the country.

None of this is true in Iraq, nor even close.

. . .

It has somehow become more acceptable to attack Mr. Bush for risking U.S. lives than to condemn Saddam for murdering Iraqis. A report this week indicated Saddam's regime had executed 61,000 people in Baghdad alone. He is believed to have killed 180,000 Kurds, and his post-Kuwait reprisals on Shiite Muslims left another 60,000 dead.

He ran torture chambers and stuffed his prisons with political opponents. People were mutilated, apparently for no better reason than the entertainment of their killers. Critics had explosives strapped to them and were blown to bits. Dissidents were tossed off tall buildings. Since the U.S. invasion, authorities have found 41 mass graves; hundreds more are believed to exist, containing between 300,000 and 500,000 victims.

Yet the focus has been on attacking the Americans, a situation that may finally change with the capture of Saddam. It underlines a simple question. Given the choice, who would you want running your country: a democratic if imperfect administration like the one in Washington, or that madman they dragged out of a hole in the ground yesterday?


Judging from some of the posts on The Democratic Underground (Right Wing News has a decent selection), apparently some people really would prefer Saddam Hussein.

I've been noting a sad lack of appreciation for what freedom actually is. I think, though that just as the far-left and the far-right are identically authoritarian, and some things can be so uncool as to be cool (e.g. Neil Diamond), that the "intelligencia" has now gotten so "intelligent" that it is now stupid.

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