Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Wish It To Be So; Therefore, It Is So

The child-like quality of right-wing commentary about events in Iraq always astonishes me. Like little kids, they believe what they want and need to believe, and assert their belief over and over with no need to provide supporting evidence -- as if the sheer force of their conviction is enough to make it true.

Mark I. at Redstate quotes from remarks made by Harry Reid on the Senate floor yesterday:

Mr. President, yesterday we reached another tragic milestone in Iraq. It seems it never stops. We lost five young American soldiers. That means 2007 has been the deadliest year for our troops in the entire war. ...
No one doubts that our military is battered, scarred, and stretched to the limit. And let's not forget about what is going on in Iraq. It is estimated that 2 million people have left the country. This was a country of about 25 million people when the invasion took place. We learned today that 2.3 million civilians are now displaced, fleeing from their homes, their neighborhoods, their schools, places of worship. Violence is down, and certainly that is important and good, but many of the experts are saying one reason the violence is down is that so much ethnic cleansing has already taken place. It is true they found 35 or 40 dead bodies today, and they are still finding them--not to the amount they were finding before. They were finding more than 100 a day. Many of the areas have been ethnically cleansed. (my emphasis)

Mark sees significance in the fact that Reid's words about displaced Iraqis (and the number is actually closer to four million when externally displaced Iraqis are included) and sectarian cleansing were not in the official written version of the speech:

Funny how those highlighted passages didn’t make it into the Senator’s official statement. Perhaps that’s because Sen. Reid, or more likely some more sentient member of his staff, realized just exactly what he said in those remarks.

Apparently, Sen. Reid believes that it has been the terrorists who have been successful in reducing the violence in Iraq, not US troops. If ethnic cleansing is responsible for the reduction; and the US is not engaging in ethnic cleansing, as one hopes the Senator would agree; then there can be no other interpretation of Reid’s words “one reason the violence is down is that so much ethnic cleansing has already taken place.” The terrorists are not being routed by the military. Instead the improvements in Iraq are partly attributable to their past successes. So says the distorted and increasingly desperate worldview of Sen. Reid.

All signs from Iraq on the military front are positive. Today, the military commander of Baghdad declared that city 87% cleared of al-Qaeda. Yesterday, the military commander of Anbar province predicted that security operations in that province could be turned over to Iraqi security forces by this coming March. That means the military goals of the troop surge, securing Baghdad and rooting out terrorist strongholds in Anbar, are largely completed.

But none of that matters to Sen. Reid. He wants to assign credit for the astounding success of the US military in the troop surge to the very enemy they are fighting. He wants to weigh down the good news from Iraq with images of a humanitarian crisis. He wants to hide the gains made in Iraq behind images of displaced persons, homeless children, ethnic cleansing. He wants voters to think nothing good about Iraq and the mission of the US military there. He wants to pull the rug out from under the military’s achievements by hinting that it is really the terrorists who have achieved their goals, not the Pentagon. This is shameful behavior for a national leader and someone on Sen. Reid’s staff knows it.

In fact, the terrorists are largely responsible for the drop in violence -- that's what happens when you practice sectarian cleansing on a massive scale for several years. And no, U.S. troops have not participated in sectarian cleansing, but they have been facilitating it by enlisting the help of local leaders whose idea of counterterrorism is clearing entire neighborhoods through murder and eviction on a sectarian basis. And if Mark I. could set aside his American-centric lens for a moment, he might be able to see that raining on our troops' parade is not a good reason to ignore that there are indeed over two million Iraqis displaced within the country, and another couple million more living as refugees outside Iraq, in neighboring countries. To be precise, the latest statistics indicate that 14 percent of Iraq's population is displaced as a result of the war.
... That would be the equivalent of 42 million Americans forced from their places of residence. I mean, it is a Stephen King-style futuristic apocalypse for Iraq. Only it has just happened, during the past 4 1/2 years. And the American government is responsible for kicking it off.

Of course Mark makes no attempt to answer Reid's points. He does not say that Reid's statement is incorrect, nor does he spend one moment trying to refute it. Rather, he accuses Reid of "assigning credit" to the terrorists instead of to U.S. troops. He does not say that over two million Iraqis are not displaced and homeless inside Iraq; instead, he charges Reid with " want[ing] to weigh down the good news from Iraq with images of a humanitarian crisis. He wants to hide the gains made in Iraq behind images of displaced persons, homeless children, ethnic cleansing. He wants voters to think nothing good about Iraq and the mission of the US military there. "[All emphasis is mine.]

Read those words again. And then again. And a third time. Let them sink in. Let your mind fully absorb what Mark I. is telling us. The most important thing for Mark -- the highest priority, the right, the moral, thing to do -- is to "give the troops credit" for reducing the violence in Iraq. Not once do the words "truth" or "fact" or "evidence" appear in this post. They are not important. What is important -- indeed, what is essential and absolutely required -- is to not allow any images or messages or realities to contradict the war narrative that Mark and his fellow travelers have fashioned for themselves.

One might even say that Mark prefers that Congress give no weight to "images of a humanitarian crisis" so that we can "assign credit" for the lack of any more people to kill in Iraq to "our troops" or to "the success of the mission." One might say he wants to hide the millions of displaced Iraqis, the homeless children, the mass murder of Sunnis by Shiites and Shiites by Sunnis, the disease and starvation, the desperate and abysmal conditions in which vast number of Iraqis are living, behind feel-good, self-congratulatory happy talk about "good news" and "the astounding success of the U.S. military" and the "sacrifices of our brave troops" (who stop being brave the moment they tell the truth about what they're seeing and doing in Iraq). And he wants to use the word "leadership" to describe this appalling game of "let's pretend America has won the war and Iraq is peaceful and safe and filled with happy, shiny Iraqi people who love us and are grateful to us and want to be just like us when they grow up." True American leaders do not tell the truth as their observations, experience, and fact-finding reveal the truth to be. True American leaders agree that mass delusion is truth, and go along to get along.

Not. There is no true leadership without moral courage and the capacity to think and act independently. That's what leadership is. I certainly don't think Harry Reid fits that definition, although he may have had a brief moment of clarity on the Senate floor yesterday. But the massive denial in which the right is engaging -- denying unimaginable human misery for which our government is responsible so that they can indulge themselves in maudlin self-love -- is utterly, disgustingly immoral.

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