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Some Thoughts on Iraq
Eleven Points

by James Leroy Wilson
May 13, 2004

I saw an out-of-town friend I hadn't seen in three years who said that he reads my articles.  He asked me how long it takes me to write them, how I plan them, etc.  It takes me a shorter amount of time than he thought.  But I may not have been completely honest.  If "abortion" meant killing essays before they have a chance to be publicly read, I'd be the anti-abortion movement's #1 target.  Well, actually, I don't kill them - they are saved files that I can go back to later.  But eventually, a lot of them will be deleted.

Some of them go on for several paragraphs, finding me getting lost in tangents, unable to retrieve the main point - as opposed to my most successful style where I go into tangents yet am able to retrieve the main point.  And so I start again.  For me, it's finding the right opening sentence and paragraph.  After that, I am able to fly.  There was a spurt from February through March where I was able to post this weekly column, two additional sport-related pieces, and five pieces at  Recently, however, it's been hard getting this column produced at all.  The past two weeks are indicative.  There were several starts and stops over several days before they were finally written.

I'm confessing all of this now, frankly, because I'm falling into the trap again.  In light of the Iraqi POW torture scandal, I've already started about five different pieces, containing different points. None were adequate, but I also couldn't cram everything I wanted to say in one column - that would be way too long.  (I'm already fully aware of how lengthy my pieces are compared to the Internet norm.)

And the thoughts keep coming, with no way of framing them or structuring them appropriately.  So I have chosen to just summarize them here.  If there's something you want further elaboration on, write a letter to the Editor:

1. Barbarism is endemic to government, not to culture.

2. The Pat Tillmans are, by design, the exception rather than the rule of the armed forces.  By this is not to disparage the character of members of the armed forces, but that intelligent young millionaires like Pat Tillman with limitless opportunities don't normally enlist.  Whereas many with far fewer natural gifts and economic opportunities do.

3. "Un-American" means eating dogs, playing cricket, celebrating Boxing Day, and arranged marriages.  But moral values and ideals are not affixed to nationalism.  America is a country, not an idea or an ideal.

4. This was not an aberration: the USA even has a school in Florida teaching Latin American agents the science of torture.  We've known this for a long time.  We vote for politicians who fund it.

5. The American public school system has made us a nation of uncritical idiots - and that might be the point of it.  Also, the authoritarian mentality of "zero tolerance" is the mentality of maintaining control in Iraq.  American schools fail; Iraq is failing.  Products of American schools are trying to keep order in Iraq.

6. Proponents of the invasion of Iraq should not be surprised that Americans willfully commit atrocities during war. They also shouldn't be surprised by "insurgencies" or that there were no WMD's.  The war is going as well as I thought it would, which is why I opposed it.  I am more surprised that more pro-war proponents aren't saying, "these things happen, but we must be patient."

7.  It is a contradiction to impose democracy and freedom through outside force.  The neo-con mentality that thinks otherwise is essentially an anti-market, anti-individual, communist mentality, that the State with good intentions and enough might, can make right.  You'd think that neo-conservatism was the creation of Marxists.  Oh, wait, it was.

8. Peace is the beginning of liberty and justice. 

9. Americans are too susceptible to "moral absolutes" or universal truths.  That is, extremism: the desire for simplistic abstractions to become social reality through force and law.  Which explains a whole lot, from the War on Drugs to our invading Iraq in the first place.  We are thus not unlike the Islamic extremists we are fighting.

10. I think "defeat," leaving Iraq in a humiliating fashion for waging an unjust war, will actually benefit America.  Does this make me "anti-American?"  

11. In the very thing the national government is fundamentally supposed to do - provide for the common defense, it severely underestimated the terrorist threat of Al Qaeda, and greatly over-estimated the threat of Saddam Hussein.  Why would anyone, of the right or the left, trust the national government to do anything else, like guarantee health care, determine the value of money, define obscenity, or even decide what is right or wrong or good or bad?  Why should we trust these guys over anything?

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