Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Saturday, January 18, 2003

Protest spin

Now that I've set up Damien Penny as a thoughtful, intelligent right-moderate fellow, he goes and proves me wrong. He tells this tale about The Ma'dan, people who lived in the marshes of southern Iraq before those marshes were drained. And good for him for telling that tale, because it's been a largely unreported suppression of Iraqi citizens, systematically, by their government.

Here's the part that bothers me a great deal about the story he writes: in typical right fashion, he sets up a straw dog anti-war protester:

Among those that have heard about it, here are the likely answers:

- "Well, it's his country, isn't it? It's none of our business!"

- "Yeah, but the Americans supported Saddam once, so it logically follows that they should make no attempt to overthrow him."

- "Well, if the Americans had supported the Marsh Arabs when they revolted against Saddam, this probably never would have happened." (Which is true, but does anyone think these "peace" activists would have supported an American-backed revolt against Saddam?)

- "What are you, some kind of Zionist?"

Except that none of those answers would come from any anti-war protester I know. Let's let Amnesty International say it better than I ever could:

Once again, the human rights record of a country is used selectively to legitimize military actions.


Life, safety and security of civilians must be the paramount consideration in any action taken to resolve the current human rights and humanitarian crisis. The experience of previous armed intervention in the Gulf has shown that, all too often, civilians become the acceptable casualties of war.

Is Saddam Hussein criminally dangerous to his own citizens? You betcha. But Amnesty's site is a great place to find a lot of guys like that, in countries around the world. Now, for certain, a journey of a thousand miles blah blah onestepatatimecakes. But the American government has not given me any reason to believe that it actually cares about human rights abuses. The indifference the American government now shows toward human rights in Afghanistan supports my mistrust. So does the American unwillingness to ratify the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court.

No one on the left supports widespread human rights abuses. And speaking for myself, if I thought the Americans were going to war to avert a humanitarian crisis, and they had a chance of doing so, I'd be in support of war. But in this case, human rights abuses are an excuse, not a reason. I don't have any expectations that the American government could care less about solving them.

I don't think the military might of the United States is the best way to bring about democracy and freedom around the world. The failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda proved to me that military actions, even with the very loftiest of goals, remain military actions, and humanitarian work is something different altogether.

But even if the military might of the United States was a great tool to solve humanitarian crises, that isn't anything like how that might has been used in the recent past. Why should we think that's going to change in this war?

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