What Does Logic Have To Do With It?
On the 3rd Jan this year, John McCain, one of the candidates for the Republican nomination,
said (as is now well-known) that it “would be fine with [him]” if American troops stayed in Iraq for “maybe a hundred years”. Later he extended this to a ‘thousand’ or a ‘million’ years. What matters (he said) is “not the American presence [but] American casualties.” Since the recent ‘surge’, these had come down. And so, “as long as Americans [were] not being injured, harmed, or killed”, Americans could stay virtually forever. McCain pointed to American troops in Japan, South Korea, Europe or Bosnia. The US military had been present in the first three for some 60-odd years, so why not Iraq too?
This astounding declaration has been rightly termed militarism run mad: military activity for its own sake, as an end in itself. But beyond this, certain other aspects need to be brought out.
1. American forces are stationed in Japan & Germany because the govts who ruled then, were defeated in 1945. The US troops there are occupation forces that stayed on, for other, political, reasons. Similarly, American forces in France & Italy have continued there since helping to defeat the invading/occupying German forces towards the end of WWII. In South Korea, American & other troops helped to defeat an invading army from the north (1950-53), & the Americans then stayed on. In short: American soldiers are in these countries peacably: they are not engaged in killing Germans, the French, Italians, Japanese, or South Koreans.
But in Iraq, American troops are invaders(repeat: invaders. ) For some five years now, American forces have been killing & wounding Iraqis. That is why American troops, in turn, are “being injured, harmed, & killed” there. To stay in Iraq for whatever period, is to prolong an invasion, a state of war.
In short: To jumble together Iraq, Germany, France, Italy, Japan & South Korea -- in this regard -- is to say: “ American troops abroad are stationed in front of various backdrops. What do these matter? It’s our boys & their bravery & patriotism that count.”
Consistently, the declaration quoted above doesn’t even realise that Iraq is foreign, not American. The statement (in effect) considers the decision to remain in Iraq, is an American matter -- only. The Iraqis don’t enter at all. They are, at best, a sort of background murmur, or ‘noises off’.
2. The argument runs solely in terms of American casualties. What about the Iraqis? All those scores of thousands & more, all innocently caught in an invasion & its continuing gory aftermath? They’re just backdrop, are they?
3. To stay in Iraq is to ensure that American injuries & deaths will continue (see above.) The ironclad, definitive method of prevention? The Ron Paul method, of course: GO! & do not return. But then you can’t also stay for even a day, let alone a hundred, a thousand, a million years…
Of such stuff are American presidential candidates in 2008 (with one exception.) Is it any wonder that foreigners, in self-defence, are virtually forced to take a keen interest in US politics…
- Five Things You Need to Know to be a Better Digital Preservationist
- Book on Losing British Generals Wins American History Prize
- Stanford scholar explores civil rights revolution's positive impact on the South's economy
- Harvard Historian Nancy Koehn on Amazon's Tentacular Reach
- Q&A with historian and author Nick Turse