Wednesday, January 10, 2007
From "Bring Them On" to Troop Surge: 2810 Dead
Sons, brothers, sisters, husbands, friends and lovers
Richard Cohen in the Post compares the president's support of death penalty with his position on Iraq: "
Irrational is as Irrational does
I bring up Bush's appalling record of executions not because I have once again mounted my anti-capital-punishment hobbyhorse but because his record offers an insight into why the United States will stay in Iraq and with even more troops than before.
Let me explain. In Iowa, during the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush answered a question about why he so ardently supported capital punishment. He offered a number of reasons, but one -- deterrence -- prompted me to raise my hand and ask a follow-up: But, sir, there is absolutely no evidence that capital punishment is a deterrent. To my astonishment, Bush conceded my point: "You're right. I can't prove it. But neither can the other side prove it's not."
Ponder that answer for a while. What it means is not just that Bush embraced a famously irrational way of thinking -- the logical fallacy often called "proving a negative" -- but in this case he used it to overwhelm all evidence to the contrary. Once you know this, you can appreciate what Bush means when he calls himself The Decider. It means that evidence, arguments, proof and logic cannot be conclusive when, as is often the case, the president proceeds on what can be called a matter of faith. I am not referring here just to religion -- although surely that is paramount to Bush -- but to supremely secular matters of state: when to go to war, why go to war and when to remain at war. In Bush's mind, the bad guys will lose and the good guys will win and Iraq will become a democracy. This will happen not because Bush can prove that it will but because nobody can prove it won't.
Across the Atlantic, Steve Bell of The Guardian, expressed his view in a cartoon.
Sally Quinn wrote in the Post about her memory of soldiers wounded in the Korean war.
The soldiers in the litters above and below me both died, blood dripping from their wounds. Many other soldiers died while we were in the air. We had to stop in Hawaii overnight to refuel and to leave the bodies.
I hope that when President Bush discusses sending more troops to Iraq, knowing that we will have to pull out sooner rather than later, that the conversation comes around to the human suffering. Does anyone at the table ask about the personal anguish, the long-term effects, emotional, psychological and financial, on the families of those killed, wounded or permanently disabled?
When I hear about the surge, all I can think of is those young soldiers on the plane to Texas. We have already lost more than 3,000 soldiers, and many more have been wounded and disabled.
We have three choices here. All three are immoral. We can keep the status quo and gradually pull out; we can surge; or we can pull out now. When I think about those young soldiers on that plane coming back from Japan years ago, I believe pulling out now is the least immoral choice.
Link: Glenn Kutler's audio report in Newsweek