We have to get out -- not because withdrawal will head off civil war in Iraq or keep the country from fallling under Iran's control (it won't) but because the only way we can stop those things from happening is by killing people on a massive scale, probably even more massive than the tragedy we supposedly would be trying to prevent.
Defeat, in other words, isn't the only alternative to failure. It could also lead to the kind of warfare that CIA counterinsurgency specialist Michael Scheuer warned about in his book Imperial Hubris:
"Progress will be measured by the pace of killing and, yes, by body counts. Not the fatuous body counts of Vietnam, but precise counts that will run to extremely large numbers. The piles of dead will include as many or more civilians as combatants because our enemies wear no uniforms . . ."
There was a time when I would have argued that the American people couldn't stomach that kind of butchery -- not for long anyway -- even if their political leaders were willing to inflict it. But now I'm not so sure. As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the American public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.
Heart of Darkness
September 24, 2005
I'm a very lucky person with every allergy known to man but still happy to be enjoying a wonderful life living in the best place in the world!