Criticizing the war critics
Cathy Young responded to yesterday's post of mine about Iraq with a post of her own, from which I've excerpted the following:
Now, there is another argument being made: that critics of the war, should they succeed, will be responsible for the death and misery and will befall the Iraqi people...I myself strongly oppose a pullout before the Iraqis can defend themselves, but I think that the "their blood will be on your heads" argument is a below-the-belt tactic that should be off-limits in civil discourse. True, the Anchoress's ire is ostensibly directed at those who talk about a quick pullout, but how many war critics are really in that category?...
What's more, the "blood on your heads" argument is too easily turned around. There is little doubt that at present, the war in Iraq has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis who would have been alive had the war not taken place. Yes, of course other Iraqi lives were saved from the killing machine that was the Hussein regime...
Cathy devotes most of her post to the Anchoress's comments rather than mine, so I'll leave it to the Anchoress to respond if she cares to.
But I wanted to clarify something for Cathy (and others) about my own post: I am not talking about war critics in general. I was speaking of one thing only: those critics who want to leave Iraq before it is ready to defend itself. Those critics who want to set a timetable for that pullout. Those critics who, like Tom Hayden, truly do consider the Vietnam abandonment by the US as something of which they are very proud, and who've been planning almost from the start to attempt a repeat in Iraq.
In my post I offered some links: to two previous posts of my own as well as an article about the end of the Vietnam War and a piece by Tom Hayden. I can't speak to whether Cathy Young has read them or not. But in case she hasn't, I suggest it. They're long, I know. But I don't think yesterday's post of mine can be understood without reading them.
My main point is quite a simple one: advocating a pullout--or even a timetable for a pullout--without understanding or recognizing the probable consequences of such action is utterly irresponsible. And it is an irresponsibility that ought to be familiar to those who remember what happened at the end of the Vietnam War. I can't really understand what would be "below the belt" and uncivil about saying so.
When I wrote yesterday's post, I fully expected that my argument--which was actually more about "blood on your hands" than "on your heads"--would be turned around and directed at war supporters. My answer? Yes, indeed, there's enough blood to go around. There always is in war; wars involve blood on everyone's hands, including pacifists, who are responsible for some of the blood involved in feeding the crocodile.
The important question is: how much blood is on whose hands, and to what end? To me, it seems clear that a pullout would be the greater of two evils, as I have come to believe it was in Vietnam. If eggs have already been broken, you better try to stick around till those omelets have been made.