Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Politicizing KIA in Iraq

I responded to Intel Dump post 4,000:

I'm bothered that the KIAs of OIF have been portrayed as though they are of a distinct - politicized - nature from KIAs away from Iraq. Would OIF casualties be more acceptable if they were OEF casualties? Would they be different if they happened in the initial invasion of OIF rather than in the protracted 'post-war'? What if they happened in OEF due to a much larger invasion force and occupation of Afghanistan (if presumably, manpower headed for Afghanistan wasn't diverted to Iraq)? Or, from an al-Qaeda-chasing invasion into the Islamist strongholds of Pakistan? Or, intervention in a 'non-permissive' area like Darfur?

Commenter Publius responded:

"I'm bothered that the KIAs of OIF have been portrayed as though they are of a distinct - politicized - nature from KIAs away from Iraq. Would OIF casualties be more acceptable if they were OEF casualties?"

Maybe. It all depends on perceptions of whether or not Just War principles apply. 350K dead in WW2 were not politicized. But, then, Eric, welcome to my war—Vietnam—where 58K dead are forevermore politicized.

You may be bothered all you like, but the fact is that Afghanistan is commonly viewed as the "good" war, whereas for more and more of the populace, Iraq is viewed as the "bad" war. Casualties in a "bad" war will always be viewed through a political prism and will never be as acceptable as those in a "good" war. If you believe as I do that the so-called Operation Iraqi Freedom (a grotesque term in and of itself) was an unnecessary and fruitless endeavor accompanied by a bodyguard of lies concocted by an inferior president and a host of self-interested henchmen, then, yes, I think one might see where each and every death would be politicized. One death was too many; the thought of four thousand Americans who should be walking the face of the earth today is unbearably sad.

All wars are not created equal. The deaths are the same. The fine young people who are the fallen are the same. But the motives and the execution are not the same.

To which I said:

Publius: "One death was too many; the thought of four thousand Americans who should be walking the face of the earth today is unbearably sad."

Would they be, though?

I can concede that most soldiers' deaths in war are not due to targeted assassinations, so as a matter of odds, the same soldier killed in Iraq may have lived if he was instead deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Darfur - even if his or her mission had the same degree of risk in either place that it had in Iraq. But I can't concede that our soldiers who've deployed to Iraq over the last 5 years, if President Bush had chosen to maintain the pre-OIF sanctioning and 'containment' of Saddam-led Iraq through his administration, would have been kept out of harm's way. More likely, they would have been sent into harm's way for other missions in the War on Terror, which may or may not have suffered from the same unbearably sad 'bad war' unpopularity inflicted upon OIF. Deployed somewhere other than Iraq, maybe fewer of our soldiers would have died, but maybe the same number, maybe more.


Eric

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