July 30, 2005

Disgusting Moral Equivalence at the LA Times

The LA Times prints a disgusting opinion column by Saree Makdisi, a Professor at UCLA:

The usual self-congratulatory contrast between "our" civilization and "their" barbarism has set the stage for a cycle of moralistic inquiries into the motivations of suicide bombers and the supposed duty of "good" Muslims to restrain "bad" ones. Few have noticed that suicide bombing is merely a tactic used by those who lack other means of delivering explosives. Fewer still seem to notice that what happened in London is what occurs every time a U.S. or British warplane unloads its bombs on an Iraqi village.

Just to clear up a little misconception - that the terrorists do not lack other means of delivering explosives - the terrorists have RPG's, grenades, pipe bombs, roadside bombs, car bombs, mines, etc. Wouldn't want the facts to get in the way of an often repeated flimsy rationalization.
This column is absolutely disgusting. Mr. Makdisi is saying that our troops are the moral equivalent of the suicide bombers.
The basis of his argument essentially assumes that U.S. and British warplanes have been carpet bombing Iraqi villages. Clearly, they have not. Our B-52's, B-1's, B-2's and other heavy bombers are not even used. Large numbers of Iraqi civilians are not dying from our bombing operations. At this point in the war, however, they are more likely to die as the result of suicide bombing by the Iraqi terrorists. To the extent that U.S. and British warplanes actually conduct bombing operations in an Iraqi village, only precision munitions are used. These precision munitions allow for great accuracy and minimal casualties. It would, however, be completely dishonest for me to not acknowledge that even these bombing operations do, at times, cause casualties of Iraqi civilians. Any such deaths are, of course, regrettable and unintentional. However, more often than not, these Iraqi civilians are not always "innocent" in the sense that they are actively hiding the terrorists or are allowing the terrorists to use their villages as a base.
Islamic terrorists, who use suicide bombing, are deliberately targeting innocent civilians - men, women and children. I stress the word "deliberately" - it is the terrorists goal that these civilians die. To the extent that U.S. and British bombing raids kill Iraqi civilians, any such deaths are minimal and unintentional. Makdisi, however, indicates that such "collateral damage" is just as bad as the deliberate killing by the terrorists because in either scenario a person dies. I would argue that is way too simplistic. It does matter. If the U.S. and British decided to intentionally kill Iraqi citizens, we could kill millions in one day through the use of our respective nuclear arsenals. We could wipe out an entire city in a couple of bombing runs. That clearly would wipe out the insurgency and allow our armed forces to go home much sooner. Yet, we do not. Rather, we are waging one of the most "sensitive" wars ever fought by a nation. We expose our troops to unnecessary risks by forcing them to fight the terrorists in dangerous urban warfare.
Makdisi continues:
Our governments dismiss out of hand any connection between the London bombings and the war in Iraq. Such attacks, they say, predate 2003. But Iraq was first invaded in 1991, not 2003. Then a decade of sanctions against that country killed a million Iraqis, including 500,000 children. Over the same period, unwavering support for Israel has resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Palestinians and the total paralysis of an entire people. Tens of thousands have been slaughtered by U.S. and British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
At its best, this is total historical revisionism. It was only after Iraq had invaded Kuwait (last time I checked, another Muslim nation) that the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq in 1991. We were defending our Middle Eastern allies and the Muslim people within that country. It is undisputed that the Kuwaiti people were being brutally raped and murdered. Our military presence in Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War was only to prevent Saddam Hussein's regime from exterminating the Kurds or invading another country. The decade of sanctions was done by the United Nations (although, of course, the U.S. did support the sanctions). Was this the best policy? In my mind, no. The sanctions were intended to punish the Iraqi government's behavior - if the United Nations really wanted to do so, they could have finished the job in 1991. The United Nations set up programs whereby Iraq could sell oil in exchange for food and other humanitarian items. Did Sadaam's regime use the "Oil for Food" Program to do so? No, he used it to build bigger and better palaces. Ultimately, if people died because of sanctions (I doubt that his numbers are anywhere close to correct), it was the result of Sadaam's corruption - not our actions.
Saddam Hussein was responsible for millions of Muslim deaths. In fact, he has killed more Muslims than any other person in history through his internal purges of dissidents, his wars against the Kurds, his wars with Iran, his war with Kuwait, etc. It is incredibly hypocritical to say that the Muslim attacks are the result of the Iraqi invasion, which resulted in the killing of Muslims in Iraq, when that invasion is responsible for deposing the greatest killer of Muslims this world has ever seen... Our invasion stopped the continued mass murder and killing of Muslims.
Another thought - we helped stop the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia. I guess we get no credit for that either...
Of course, Makdisi now claims that the decades of unwavering support of Israel have somehow lead to the suicide bombings and attacks on the west. It must be the Jews fault... This is ridiculous. If the Palestinians are "suffering" it is due to their own actions or those of their Arab sponsors. The Palestinians are living in refugee camps because (a) they decided to leave Israel before the Arab armies attacked Israel, (b) the Arab countries will not assimilate them into their population, (c) the Palestinians have diverted the billions of dollars of aid to finance their terrorist war again Israel or to the personal bank accounts of the Palestinian leaders as opposed to building public infrastructure and cities and (d) on every occasion that Israel has offered peace, they have refused to cease terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens. If the Palestinians would allow Israelis to live in peace, Israel would do so.
Moreover, Al Quaeda, who was responsible for the attacks against the U.S. and Great Brittain, is not a Palestinian terrorist organization. In the past, the terrorist statesman Yasser Arafat often lamented that Bin Laden and Al Quaeda did not pay attention to the Palestinian cause.
Suicide bombing, which is the subject of his column, predates 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. Suicide bombing was originated and perfected by the Palestinian terrorists against Israeli citizens. Al Quaeda was attacking the west long before 9/11 (Kobar Towers, the U.S.S. Cole, etc.). The attacks on London were not the logical result of our foreign policy following 9/11...
The fact that the LA Times would print such trash is astounding. I urge everyone to write to the editor of the LA Times ... While Mr. Makdisi is not a member of the editorial board, the editorial board chose to put this column in its paper. By doing so, they have endorsed his column or, at the very least, have found it to be an acceptable view point.
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