Thursday, August 16, 2007

Interesting Fact

Bill Roggio, discussing operations related to Phantom Thunder in Iraq, notes that "The aggressive pace of operations since January has resulted in an explosion in the prison population. There are currently 42,000 detainees in Iraqi and Multinational Forces Iraq custody. Of those detained, 2,760 are foreign fighters as of August 8. This number includes over 800 Iranians."

Eight hundred Iranians!?


War Weary

Polls, we are told, show us that the American people are tired of the war and want it ended. This causes us to wonder. Why, or how, could anyone in the States, except for those and their families who have served in Iraq, possibly be tired of the war? What sacrifices have the rest of us made in the war effort? How has the war effected us? What burdens have we had to bear because of it?

Perhaps people don't mean that they themselves have been in any way inconvenienced by the conflict but that they're tired of young Americans dying in the struggle to stabilize Iraq. This doesn't seem quite plausible, though. It's true that the deaths of young Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan have been hard to bear, but if it's deaths of Americans that have caused so many to demand an end to the war why aren't they upset about the far greater number of Americans who are murdered each year on the streets of our cities?

More Pennsylvanians were murdered just in the city of Philadelphia last year than have been killed in Iraq since the war began (approx. 400 to 170), but no one is demanding that we do anything much about urban violence. It certainly hasn't become a dominant issue in the Presidential campaign.

Why aren't those who are upset about American deaths in Iraq also upset about the six thousand teenagers who are killed each year in automobile accidents? These deaths could be largely prevented simply by raising the driving age, but the concern over them apparently isn't strong enough to cause us to take such a relatively easy step. If we're not losing sleep over those deaths why do the casualties in Iraq upset us?

But if it's not American deaths per se which have people so war weary what exactly is it? Perhaps we're just tired of hearing about the war on the news and want it over with. If so, that's a reason which does little to flatter the common sense of the American people. Being tired of hearing about the struggle for the survival of millions of people, including perhaps, our own children, is about the very worst reason we could have for withdrawing our troops from Iraq.

Perhaps people just tell pollsters that they're tired of the war because they think that saying that they're not tired sounds somehow callous or indifferent. It would be like telling a pollster that of course we're fed up with the blood on our city streets, even if we've never given it a thought, because to say otherwise seems almost an endorsement of the violence.

But if this is the reason why polls show many Americans to be weary of the war then those poll results are completely meaningless. They tell us nothing about how Americans really feel about what's going on in Iraq.


Al Qaida in Iraq

Christopher Hitchens considers the argument sometimes made by anti-war folk that we created al Qaida in Iraq and that if we'd just leave they'd have no reason to continue their butcheries. According to advocates of this line of thinking, it's our fault that Iraqis are dying at the hands of murderous savages and if we'd simply abandon the war the bloodshed would stop.

In the pantheon of ludicrous arguments this one, in my opinion, occupies a privileged niche. Hitchens explains why.