Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Iraq war is bad idea

More assassinations and deaths today in Iraq. The governor of Baghgdad was gunned down and we lost five more American soldiers. Bush is still his confident (stubborn?) self. Yes, we'll stick to the timetable for the elections. Yes, things are going well. I find it hard to believe.

We are spending 80 plus billions of dollars on the war, when the tsunami aid stands only at 350 million. Our priority seems to be the unpopular and senseless war over tens of thousands of real human suffering.

We can all curse the heartless murderers and thugs, just as we do the commies in Vietnam. What they say is simply propaganda for spreading fear, and their hatred is directed at democracy. But dare anyone ask if this view is overly simplistic? Weren't the Soviets fighting these same terrorists in Afghanistan back in the 1980s? Could it be possible that they are convicted that they are fighting an occupation imposed upon their people and their culture from the Western Christian world?

But who cares how they really feel? They are murderers and thugs after all. Maybe they feel that they are being oppressed; maybe they hate democracy and freedom. Does it matter one way or the other?

Well, if you watch the famed documentary The Fog of War, about Robert McNamara, the Defense Minister who oversaw the Vietnam fiasco in the Nixon Administration, you may understand why the distinction is important. McNamara said, one of the first rules of engagement is to empathize with your enemy. In Vietnam war, the U.S. was fighting to free a people from Communist tyranny, but the Vietnamese were fighting to free their country from colonial intent of another superpower! That probably explains why massive destructive power failed to bend the will of the opponent.

If we take a look at the Middle East today, we see many parallels. The Arab people have never accepted a regime forced on them. They drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan. They are still fighting the Israelis after 30 years. In other words, if we misunderstand what is at issue in the conflicts, we may end up battling a people into the future with no end in sight. While the American people and the world are paying a heavy toll in the interim, we may scratch our heads and wonder: why they don't want our ways of life -- democracy and liberty and appreciate our sacrifice in the process of handing these to them?!

Maybe somebody should reassess the support base of the insurgents. As far as one can gather from the news, they are from almost every Arabic country and they are ready to give up life to inflict damage on their enemy. If you remember Godfather the movie, that was when Michael Corleone decided to pull out of Cuba -- he saw the rebels were willing to die for their causes. But then, that is just a movie, right?

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