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How many?
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-04-18 08:17:25
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In the beginning it was people with names, then it became numbers, ten then twenty and then fifty; nowadays it is tens or dozens without specifying how many tens or dozens and they are always innocent and it is people, women and many, too many, kids. I’m talking about the victims in Iraq, a place that has turned into the death land for thousands of innocents. How many? Nobody seems to be able to count, tens or dozens of thousands!

You must have noticed in the news if you read about Iraq anymore and you don’t just go for the next, that when it comes to victims in Iraq the reports start with something like “at least thirty people…” and they have no idea, it's just burnt bodies. And this ‘burnt bodies’ has some lack of dignity itself. But the whole Iraq issue lacks dignity. The Americans lack dignity to admit that they failed and the people of Iraq are the ones to suffer from their egocentrism. The warlords lack of dignity, the patriots, the liberators, the religious, all of them lack dignity. The civilians? Well, all the above stole their dignity!

But let’s start from the American’s lack of dignity, the invasion didn’t fail, neither their target to finish once and for all with Saddam. No, they were 100% successful there. Where they failed came after that, they never considered the consequences of their acts. Saddam and the previous equally brutal regime had established a bureaucracy, a freaky and brutal one but it was there for thirty years controlling every single aspect of Iraqi life. Then the Americans come and they demolish literally everything. What was left was so minor that made impossible for anybody to govern even the simplest administrations like a hospital or a school.

Security became the next big issue, I’m sure nobody from the American leadership, including all the army experts, thought about it, here you must admit that the British proved to have a bit more brain. Of course there was no place in the new situation for Saddam’s police and security forces but there was no place created for any new forces either. What new forces? The poor ones who voluntarily joined the new security forces and the Iraqi police did it only for the money, the Americans were paying in dollars the first few months and a dollar in the Iraqi black market could buy a life; or opportunists who thought that this was a good chance to make a career without any credentials. None good for real police work so the Americans did the next mistake, hiring people from the former regime and excuse their decision with one and only argument …they are the only ones who know the job. That provoked of course all the other sides, the ones who considered the Americans invaders and not liberators as they would like to be.

This is where the lethal mistakes start. I never understood the surprise many have shown when the Shia and the other groups started attacking the Americans and consider them invaders and conquerors instead of liberators. Leave aside that the Americans invaded Iraq with the most stupid excuses and ignoring most of the world, leave aside that they ignored even their closest allies and if you can leave aside that they ignored the United Nations in a way nobody really knows what the sequences will be in the near future. They, and by this I mean the George W. Bush administration invaded Iraq without having any idea for the day after; but the worst was that they didn’t even followed the simple logic but they handled the problem with arrogance and inexcusable confidence while they had solution, I can see two myself.

The first solution was to admit their mistake publicly and ask from the UN and their NATO allies for help for the sake of the Iraqi people and be sure if George W. Bush had followed this way all the nations of the EU voluntarily would have offered every kind of help, and it all demanded from the American president to admit that they made a mistake. The other would have been to retrieve all the army after a couple of months and let security forces and specialists from all around the world take over. The army by staying there for longer became from a liberation army into an occupation army and with a little help from the American soldiers and their daily crimes including torturing, raping and killing made it even worst. These people didn’t need another brutal father figure to show them by force what discipline means, they had the taste and the feeling. What they needed was a brother to hold their hand and lead them into freedom, unfortunately that’s the only thing they didn’t get. And even worst, the Americans push them to the other side, after all they had nothing to lose anymore, and they had lost everything!

And the other side is the Iranian style religious freaks, another cast with lack of dignity because how else you can call somebody who in the name of freedom and against the occupation army kills his very own people. Because Iraqis are the victims of all these bombs. The Americans are well protected behind all these concrete barracks in the middle of Baghdad, the boys and girls who are looking for some food in the middle of the city are the defenseless ones. What dignity there is to kill kids, your own kids, your future?

The people of Iraq had lost their dignity long time ago, they were forced to cheer a ruler and a regime they hated, they were forced to kill and be killed for this regime and now they are forced in the name of freedom to look for food in the rubbish. These people live where dignity doesn’t exist and hope was killed somewhere between Saddam’s reality and the American dream. So how many more are going to get killed before somebody will do something?

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Emanuel Paparella2008-04-18 11:44:56
Some musings on the above: the Athenian Stranger in Plato's Laws informs his partners in dialogue that they are exploring and describing how to create not the ideal city, but the second-best city. Here is the passage: "Anyone who uses reason and experience will recognize that a second-best city is to be constructed. That city and that constitution are first, and the laws are best, where the old proverb holds as much as possible throughout the whole city: it is said that the things of friends really are in common." (Plato, Laws 739A3-740C3). What Plato seems to be suggesting is that those who are not blinded by ideology and respect reason will have to agree that the ideal city is not possible given the failings of human nature; indeed to attempt the construction of the first-best city will lead to corruptions and great evils. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-04-18 11:49:33
The first, best city, the Athenian says, is that where throughout the entire polis property is held communally. While ideal, this is foolish and impossible -- something best left to the imagination (hence utopic), or perhaps reserved for the transcendent city. In the Republic Socrates, contrary to the Athenian Stranger's envisioning of the ideal city, embarks on a different kind of mission by searching for the meaning of justice for men individually through the analogy of the polis, justice writ large. From comparing the ideal arrangements of the Republic's polis, justice was to be found and then reduced to guide the individual conscience. Thus the Republic was never really meant to be attempted -- the best possible city that can existentially be brought into existence in our world is the second-best. This is a recognition of our own limits, and our own temptation to corruption. It is the realization that government's greatest goal is to do no harm while encouraging virtue to flourish. Plato saw all of this nearly 2,400 years ago, nothing has really changed save the deadliness of our weapons and therefore the scale of danger presented by refusing to understand our own human flaws. Plenty of food for thought here.

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