Sunday, August 14, 2005

A matter of balance.


What happens if/when the number of U.S. casualties in the "Global War on Terror" exceeds the death toll of the terrorist attacks of 9/11? Does the GWOT suddenly become a bad bargain? Just asking.

3 comments:

N said...

Only if you believe that
(i) the murder of unarmed civilians is equivalent to the death of combat-ready soldiers, and
(ii) as soon as 3000 American soldiers are killed, the threat against the West will vanish.

I think you'll agree that the first idea may be agreeable to Osama Bin Laden, but perhaps not to you or me. The second idea would be classified under "magical thinking".

The answer to your question seems clear to me. I'd be interested to know what your answer is.

pretty shaved ape said...

well here's my answer n:

(i) the united states and the coalition of the duped has achieved the murder of some tens of thousands of unarmed civilians. of course they are iraqi civilians and we in the west aren't obliged to care or count them. after all they are brown and foreign. their deaths aren't equivalent to much of anything here, they aren't mourned, they don't even make much news. of course the news is very busy keeping track of a missing girl or a bride with cold feet, you know, important stuff. as for combat ready soldiers, you mean those poor, sorry folks with inadequate body armour and ill equipped humvees, getting stop lossed in operation mission accomplished?

(ii) as soon as the first american soldier was killed in iraq, it was already too late. after the shock and awe brand air show and flag sale, the threat against the west was guaranteed to be a regular factor of life for the foreseeable future. the criminal pre-emption tour has made "threat against the west" the most popular act in all of the middle east. bush can send 3,000 or 30,000 american soldiers to their graves and it will still be no more than an incitement to militance and violent counter measures. it is also a crime against the families of those soldiers, whose lives have been ill spent.

as for bin laden, i imagine that an american campaign of lies and gross violence against an arab nation just tickles him pink. not to mention that operation enduring bullshit has diverted almost all attention from attempts to capture him, i bet he's sleeping really well at night these days. one could argue that islamist lunatics had no reason to attack the west before 9/11, that same argument went up in flames in iraq.

as for "magical thinking" how about this: an unjust war of aggression against a sovereign state, which devolves into chaos, anarchy and potential civil war, will make us safer.

CC said...

" Only if you believe that
(i) the murder of unarmed civilians is equivalent to the death of combat-ready soldiers,...


Careful. It's not like I was trying to draw an equivalence here, as if one could trade civilian lives for military lives.

Remember, what's happening here is that the U.S. appears to be trying to exact revenge for the deaths of 3,000 American citizens by getting involved in a military action that is costing them even more American citizens.

It's not like, "Well, if you kill 3,000 of our citizens, we'll kill 3,000 of yours."

It's more like, "Well, if you kill 3,000 of our citizens, we'll start a "war" in which we'll accept the deaths of even more of them."

At what number of military deaths will the average person start to think, "You know, this just isn't worth it any more"?

And, note well, the above equation doesn't even take into account the many, many more thousands of American military personnel who have been wounded, maimed and/or horribly disfigured for life. Or the ridiculous mounting cost of the war.

So it's not just a case of, "We're going to get even for the 3,000 people who died on 9/11." It's gone way beyond that now.

Now it's turned into, "We're going to get even for those 3,000 dead, even if it costs us many more thousands of dead and disfigured servicemen/women, and hundreds of billions of dollars poured into that sinkhole (or, more likely, funneled into the offshore accounts of Halliburton and the Carlyle Group)."

And that's only the tangible cost -- it doesn't even begin to address the intangible cost of having pissed off the rest of the world to the point where, if there was another terrorist attack on the U.S., the overwhelming reaction is likely to be something like, "Gee, payback's a bitch, ain't it?"

Anyway, this was all a roundabout way of getting back to the simple question: At what point will the average American look at the cost of the "Global War on Terror" and decide it just isn't a good investment anymore?