Sunday, April 13, 2003

Some moral questions about the slaughter in Iraq:

  1. Fouad Abu Haidar lost his left arm and may lose one of his eyes due to injuries suffered during an air attack near Iskandiriyah, in the southern suburbs of Baghdad. His father, Haidar Hussein, referring to aid campaigns being started (as publicity stunts) by British tabloids for the armless Ali Ismail Abbas, said:

    "No one has told me anything about any money from Britain. But this is a war by Bush and Blair. They did this to my son and other children, women, men. Why didn't the British and American people stop their leaders from doing this? What is the justification in bombing ordinary people? Now the Americans are in Baghdad, and look what is going on here. There is looting and killing and the Americans are also killing Iraqis. What is their justification?"

    Why didn't the British and American people stop their leaders from doing this? What is the moral responsibility of a citizen to stop an evil being committed on his or her behalf by his or her country? We don't seem to have the same quality of moral philosophers that we once had, people who might consider the point. This slaughter of the Iraqi people is clearly immoral and illegal. Is every American and British citizen morally responsible for this evil? Are you 'saved' if you went to anti-war protests? If you spoke out against the war (a very courageous thing to do in the conforming and totalitarian United States)? If you wore an anti-war tee-shirt (even braver)? We're generally said not to be morally responsible for things we have no control over. But did British and American citizens truly have no control over this massacre? Or are they just salving their consciences by pretending that there was nothing that could have been done?

  2. American soldiers are actually upset at the fact that the Iraqis refuse to give up in defending their country, thus, in the eyes of the Americans, forcing the Americans to kill them. Lt. Col. Woody Radcliffe said:

    "It's an absolute shame. We didn't want to do this. Even a brain-dead moron can understand we are so vastly superior militarily that there is no hope. You would think they would see that and give up."

    It is as if the Iraqis are morally to blame for forcing the Americans to kill them. He went on to say:

    "There were waves and waves of people coming at them, with AK-47s, out of this factory, and they were killing everyone. The commander called and said, 'This is not right. This is insane. Let's hit the factory with close air support and take them out all at once.'"

    So rather than suffer the moral issue of killing people one by one, the better way is to kill them with bombing raids so the killer doesn't actually have to see the results of his work. Do you owe the people you're slaughtering the respect of killing them by hand, or is it better to do it long-distance, so you can keep up the illusion of your own personal morality? At one point in the history of war, there was a certain understanding between soldiers on opposite sides, as the fight had a larger, presumably moral purpose, and each individual fight was a kill-or-be-killed situation, thus putting the fighters on the same moral ground. Now, mechanical means of killing are used to provide psychic distance and psychological protection so that massacres don't drive the killers crazy. One soldier said:

    "For lack of a better word, I feel almost guilty about the massacre. We wasted a lot of people. It makes you wonder how many were innocent. It takes away some of the pride. We won, but at what cost?"

    Actually, there is no better word than guilty.

  3. It appears that a large number of the soldiers fighting for the Americans feel that the attack on Iraq is justified as it is revenge for the attacks on September 11. This despite the fact that the people of Iraq had nothing to do with September 11, Iraq had nothing to do with September 11, and there is no evidence that Saddam had anything to do with September 11. Americans actually staged a rally on April 10 in support of the attack on Iraq at 'ground zero', with one firefighter saying: "This is the most appropriate spot in the world to make this statement." Arundhati Roy writes:

    "On March 21, the day after American and British troops began their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, an 'embedded' CNN correspondent interviewed an American soldier. 'I wanna get in there and get my nose dirty,' Private AJ said. 'I wanna take revenge for 9/11.'"


    "To be fair to the correspondent, even though he was 'embedded' he did sort of weakly suggest that so far there was no real evidence that linked the Iraqi government to the September 11 attacks. Private AJ stuck his teenage tongue out all the way down to the end of his chin. 'Yeah, well that stuff's way over my head,' he said."

    The American military made sure that a flag which flew over the Pentagon on September 11 covered the face of the statue of Saddam that they felled in Baghdad. The soldier who carried the flag, in response to a heckler, said: "I was at the Pentagon Sept. 11! My co-workers died. I don't (care)!" [Note that this is how his words have generally been reported, but he probably said the less censored: "I was at the Pentagon Sept. 11! My co-workers died. I don't give a f - - k!"] Polls show that some very large percentage of Americans believe that Saddam was behind September 11, and another very large percentage can't distinguish Saddam from Osama bin Laden! At what point does this kind of ignorance become a moral issue? At what point are you morally responsible for your failure to educate yourself? American ignorance is an aggressive ignorance; it is the ignorance of the bully; it is the ignorance of those who feel that their power means that they don't have to know the truth. You can't kill people to avenge something they didn't do, and then claim in your defense that you were misinformed, if you were misinformed because you were trying to hide from the truth or because you didn't feel the lives of the people you killed were worth the effort of becoming informed.

  4. What makes critics of the attack really angry is the extreme moral hypocricy of the warmongers, who have the audacity to claim that they are the true humanitarians, and that those who were against the attack are at fault for failing to support the 'liberation' of the Iraqi people. The current lawlessness in Iraq, and the fact that British and American leaders seem to find it to be more of a joke than a problem, makes clear that neither the British nor the Americans cares in the least about the wellbeing of the Iraqis. It is telling that one of the reasons that the Americans can't spare troops to stop the lawlessness or allow the distribution of aid is that too many of them are dedicated to securing the oil fields.

  5. Does everybody in the world have the right to criticize this attack on Iraq? The Russians have criticized it, and some would say they don't have the right to because of their history and, for that matter, their current conduct in Chechnya. But if you have to be blameless to criticize, then no one will ever be able to criticize. In fact, all people in the world have an obligation to criticize the Anglo-American immorality. The obligation to criticize carries with it the right to criticize.

  6. Not every American has the American view of the world. A lance-corporal in the U. S. Marines said:

    "Bush is a rich bully. The US has no legal right to be here. Probably Saddam would have sold chemical weapons to somebody someday and then the US would have been right to invade, but now this is the first free democratic country ever to occupy another without good reason"

    For being aware of the truth, is he less moral, or more moral? This isn't an easy question to answer.