March 19, 2005

Tu Quoque! (tip to IP)

A popular refrain of the anti-war types on the left is that Republicans are dumb and uninformed. They tried to use a number of falsified IQ stats, first on President Bush and then on Republican-voting states - both of them turned out to be totally made up. They've gone through a number of other steps, but the only one that they think holds any water is the idea that Republicans are dumb because apparently a high number believes that we found WMDs in Iraq. Well, "tu quoque!"

Antiwar lefties keep repeating the debunked study that 100,000 died in Iraq. Probably this is because a) it's a nice round number, b) it's a BIG, nice, round number so it proves the point that Bush was wrong to go to war.

Of course, the study is completely false. It was based on surveys from especially violent households and then multiplied to cover the rest of it. Well, if I surveyed Compton or Watts and then applied those number to the whole of California I think you'd probably find wildly inaccurate figures compared to the real ones. Same case here.

Yet they still repeat the 100,000 figure. Of course I remember the pre-war estimate from the UN was that 500,000 would definitely die, at minimum, if we went into Iraq. There's a sort of mass amnesia about THAT failed prediction. Now they've latched onto the 100,000 statistic like they can somehow prove that Bush was bad.

I remember when they gleefully counted the US soldier casualities. Every few days a few more would die and the left would gloat and preen. Ted Kennedy seemed to be watching US deaths even closer than a nice bottle of Scotland's finest. What was interesting that the left grabbed hold of something so nativist as the US death count and didn't focus on something more abstract moralizing like the Iraqi death count. Abandoning the awkward yet enthusiastic nativism of last summer, they've now resigned and moved on to the more righteous yet less publicly relevant figure of Iraqi civilian deaths. They feel more comfortable moving in these circles - always more accustomed to the idea of America being a brute than America being incompetent. What's funny is that they can't even be right about their numbers.

The infamous(ly inaccurate) IraqBodyCount currently lists a maximum of 19,000 and change, and a minimum of under 18,000. Of course, remember a few things: 1) they base all their numbers on media reports, having no other source for the info, 2) they include European and Arab newswires, which may be inflammatory or inaccurate, 3) they include ALL DEATHS, not just from direct military action but from simple crime or related to inadequate sanitation and health care. Considering the number of people that were murdered, tortured, raped or disappeared annually under Saddam, you'd think they'd at least cut a little slack somewhere. I wonder if the commies running the operation would prefer Saddam-style repression to eliminate basic street crime.

So even including potentially exaggerated deaths and including basic law and order or disease-related deaths, the 'body count' is considerably lower than 100,000. Yet it persists. Why?

Again, it's big, it's round and it proves what they want to prove. It proves Bush was wrong or America is mean or the West is violent or war is evil or whatever else is the cause du jour. They can prove what they want. More important than that, they have a huge reason to justify their continued opposition to the war. Democracy is breaking out in the Middle East, Syria is pulling back from Lebanon after almost three decades, Iraqis have a free and fair election basically for the first time, Egyptians are looking at multicandidate elections and Libya has abandoned its weapons program against the West. They need something stronger than multilateralism here and they need something stronger than angering the Arab world - both are looking like they might dissolve at any time.

Those who want to continue opposing the war are looking for a big reason to do so - something incontestable, a trump card to lay down and feel justified in opposing a war that seems to have helped bring the idea of democracy to so many millions. What's better than innocent deaths? Answer: a LOT of innocent deaths.

Now, I happen to think any innocent deaths are a tragedy and are NOT justified. The responsible party (i.e. the US or other coalition military) ought to pay surviving relatives restitution for acts of manslaughter. It ought to be relatively high, because we'd be expecting a high payout if it happened to us or to our fellow Americans. It should also discourage their happening in the future. However I don't think the accidental deaths counteract the potential good that come out of it, especially given the people saved.

Expect to see the antiwar lefties relying more and more on war-dead stories and statistics as they fight to maintain moral clarity long after they obviously lost the moral battle (as well as the political, then diplomatic, then strategic ones). They will fail, though. After all, how many died at the guns and bombs of the Allies in WWII that had nothing to do with the war? No doubt many times over even the heavily-inflated fake figure of 100,000 - Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and countless other towns and families wiped off the face of the Earth. Unless the same people are going to say the US is evil for World War II (and thereby lose any contact with the mainstream) they're going to have to engage in justification of their apparent hypocrisy.

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