Monday, November 22, 2004

Can I Get A Witness

This post is somewhat in response to comments made by Brogonzo on his blog Smokin' News.

It strikes me that there can be a balance and a judgement on the war itself based on things that have happened, without attacking soldiers or lauding the terrorists and the insurgents (yes, they are different). I agree that the "outrage" over the shooting of the Iraqi man needs to be moderated. I think it needs to go through the normal process of investigation (as it is), but that's all. The incident bothers me, but more as a function of war itself. I think that is how many people feel but they lack the language or the outlet to express that.

In fact, as soon as the tape came out I heard more talk about the supposed outrage than I heard actual outrage. This often happens in the media. They create the stories instead of presenting facts and letting people deal with it as they will. Then, when someone expresses sympathy or criticizes one side or another, these things become polarizing issues.

As much as some on the right have complained that Democrats are elitists that belittle those who support the war, have strong religious convictions, etc. I find it much more common that those of us on the left of that spectrum are maligned and marginalised (certainly in mainstream TV news media). We are called "Michael Moore" leftists and certain arguments against the war and the President become catch words, signalling the conservatives to ignore or brush aside anything we might say.

Part of John Kerry's testimony to the Senate Committee, way back when, was about the issue of what war does to men. He wasn't pionting out that atrocities were committed just to say it. Those things can happen in a war, especially a war in which the military was not prepared. In that instance, the military was much less prepared than our military is now (though, the plan for this war could arguably have been better).

That distinction, between criticizing the war and criticizing the soldiers themselves, is perhaps the biggest bone of contention in any dialogue touching those subjects. We at home are in a war of language. Words have been twisted and loaded with connotations to the point that the original argument (a visceral argument for most) is lost.
When I say there is a difference between insurgents and terrorists, others have reacted by puffing up the rhetoric. People throw around words like "freedom fighters" and act as if I had suggested that what the terrorists have done is just. That is not what I believe. But neither do I believe that we, as a country, are somehow heroes - that we are somehow better and more just than people in a country most know little about.

I have the utmost respect for the soldiers. It is horrible to me that a man would have to be in a position where he must shoot any suspicious target. That is why I am upset by the war. I see it bringing destruction in all lives lost, infrastructure and homes destroyed, minds destroyed by the horrors of war. I see it creating more "terrorists" as those homes are destroyed and clansmen, Iraqi families, are killed. Where is the good? Where was the good in the motives of our leaders who waltzed us into war, leaders who had never been to a battle? Where is the good in the lies that were told that cause people to associate the war in Iraq with Sept. 11?
This is the anger and the frustration felt by many. The video of the soldier shooting the man in the mosque is upsetting because people are not familiar with the ugliness of war. But it is the war itself that is at fault. And when those who disagree with the war see "us and them" rhetoric pervading the media and the language of our leaders, it creates even more frustration. Not to mention the tone of moral superiority that is becoming more prevalent.

As a last note, I must say that I do not expect soldiers to sit around contemplating who their enemy is and the differences between terrorists and insurgents (though I am sure many of them do). I do expect the American people to attempt some understanding. I expect our leaders to lead us in this.