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The right thing for Iraqis

Until now I have avoided writing about the war, waiting for some kind of prompt that would make it a timely discussion. Super Tuesday will have to suffice.

Sometimes the world needs a war.

In the past, that statement was a little easier to defend – there are few individuals who argue the U.S. should not have gotten involved in the world wars – but the same conditions and necessities still arise today.

That said, the War on Terror probably was not one of those times. Saddam Hussein had proven his willingness to use chemical weapons, but he was not threatening anyone but his own people. However, that rationale – the argument that the Middle East will always be in turmoil, so why should we get sucked in? – is what I wish to challenge.

The first tenant of American values is the equal value of human life. We may not execute this value at home as well as we should, but that is the measure by which we should judge ourselves. I say that to say this: Opposing the war in Iraq is blatant racism.

I do not especially care if we entered Iraq on faulty information about WMDs (although, if you were given a countdown to the exact moment your nation’s borders would be crossed, I think you, too, would find interesting ways to make things disappear), nor am I waving the banner of national security. I do, however, care about lives won or lost by the actions our country has taken.

According to a pre-surge report by The Washington Post, the fighting between the U.S. military and insurgents in Iraq is causing more than twice the civilian deaths in a given time period as during Saddam Hussein’s regime. While that is disturbing news, try turning it around for a moment.

Saddam Hussein’s actions against his own people – did I mention the part about this being against his own people? – is comparable in scale to a war being fought in urban

centers. The difference being that there is an end in sight with the war, while Hussein’s regime may well have passed to his sons, the charmers who maintained personal torture prisons, leaving no end in sight to the slaughter.

Instead, Iraqi women are able to receive an education – guarded by U.S. troops, I might add – and Iraqi civilians have elected a democratic government. And for those who do not consider this progress, just a few weeks back the Iraqi Parliament finalized a bill that would allow former Baath Party (Saddam’s party) officials, those who did not commit or endorse crimes against humanity, to rejoin the bureaucracy, proving to me at least that they do intend to bury the hatchet and move on.

Now I should probably explain why opposing the War in Iraq is racist. Consider this statement: The United States should not have engaged in the Civil War. Instead, the North should have made whatever concessions necessary to preserve the Union, because the death of white men is too high a price to pay to end the enslavement and murder of non-whites.

Obviously that statement is a gross oversimplification of the Civil War, but any decent human should understand the repugnance of that argument. So why is that same logic permissible when the suffering is taking place far away?

At the end of the day, we have every indication that Iraq can follow in the footsteps of predominantly Muslim Turkey – they may still cause the U.N. some sleepless nights, but there are no summary executions or mass graves. The violence taking place in Iraq now is horrible, but the horizon is worth the cost. A heavy death toll now (it is a war, after all) buys the safety and longevity of future generations, to say nothing of the sewage, power and plumbing infrastructure our engineers have contributed.

The point is, what is being gained is worth the cost. And yes, there are worse men out there than Saddam Hussein, and I would love to bring them down in the exact same manner.

There is also the argument that the U.S. cannot infringe on the sovereignty of other countries, but when their government’s official policy involves the wholesale slaughter of its population, I have a slight problem with the whole sovereignty premise to begin with.

Just as we paid dearly in the Civil War, both our military and Iraqi military and civilians are paying dearly to first ensure, and then preserve, their lives and freedoms. Any American who would deny them that chance is irrefutably stating the lives and freedom of Iraqis matter less than the life of a U.S. soldier. As Americans, such a stance is indefensible.

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