Wednesday, October 20, 2004

US casualties in Iraq

Now I'm probably gonna please the majority of my readers who seem to be in the opposition to Bush. I apologize to my non-left-wing comrades for this article - and those who believe that the war in Iraq is a really perfect example of success may want to stop right here. Look at this text.

http://www.cnn.com/ ... robertson.bush.iraq

That's a sort of surprising report. Before the war in Iraq started, the founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, had had a private discussion with the Lord. (It's the same guy whom Einstein would have been sorry about if GR were not confirmed by the bending light experiments.) The Lord informed Robertson about the consequences of the war in Iraq. More precisely, God told Robertson that the war was gonna be A and B (the Lord often likes to make jokes) where A is a "disaster" and B stands for "messy".

One of the conclusions that Robertson made from this discussion with his boss is that there would be many US casualties in Iraq. It's not really important what method Robertson used to get his result. I obtained similar results using very different, albeit possibly dual, means (something based on the so-called rational reasoning); in fact, I was too afraid of the ability of Hussein's army and supporters to win in the initial military operations in the beginning.

There were 6 million members of the Baath party or so in Iraq, out of roughly 23 millions of citizens. The rules of that party require that each member holds a gun and protects the Arab socialist regime led by Saddam Hussein. Obviously, many of them take these rules seriously, especially if they feel that their country should not have been attacked. Saddam has also received 100 percent of the votes in his last elections. Well, the number 100 is obviously nonsense, but you can never make 100 out of less than 20. Even 20 percent of the population against you is pretty tough.

OK, so Pat Robertson derived this result. Because he thought that his new insight may have been important, he informed the president: "Listen, George, I just spoke to the Lord and He told me that the war will be A and B." The most unbelievable part of this story is Bush's reaction (at least this is how Robertson describes Bush's reaction):

"Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

I think that the reason for this expectation is that God had distributed two contradictory statements, or He was just making rather bad jokes. Unlike Bush, God is not gonna face any elections in November, and therefore He can afford to make such bad jokes. Well, more than 1,100 US troops have died in that conflict so far, with 8,000 soldiers wounded. (I should also be counting the lives of Iraqis, but let me forget about them, especially about Saddam's supporters whom I don't care about so much.)

This just couldn't be unexpected - and in a sense, we should all be happy that the situation is so much better than in Vietnam. It's not perfect, however. It's just not so easy to fight in a country somewhere in Mesopotamia, especially if you're constrained by somewhat strict rules of humanity and you must be pretty careful to avoid killing innocent people. Don't get me wrong: the US army is still incredibly efficient in fighting the enemy over there and many operations are "surgically clean", but it just can't be 100 percent efficient and error-free. Of course that such a war could be much more efficient if one could nuke the whole country, but I guess (and I hope, in fact) that this is not what the nation would really support.

My guess is that the soldiers (I mean the generals) had to roughly know how many lives would have to be sacrificed, at least plus minus one order of magnitude. It's just a very appealing feature of Bush that he probably believes in God and His perfectionist support of Bush's actions. Although I am certainly not a believer in this non-trivial sense, there is something cute about this belief. On the other hand, some degree of realism may be helpful for the president, too.

I hope that Christianity does not prevent one from learning new things; well, it is the dominating religion that accompanied the birth of the modern Western civilization, a civilization that is certainly based on various self-correcting mechanisms. The intervention in Iraq can still turn out to be a brave and very helpful decision. But it may be better if we don't expect Iraq to become a new paradise, at least not too soon.

1. we should all be happy that the situation is so much better than in Vietnam.
How is it better than Vietnam? The Americans were in Vietnam for around 10 years, and lost fifty thousand troops. That's five thousand a year. Compared to the thousand lost in one year in Iraq, I'd hardly say it's "so much better".

2. Well, I would say that 58,000 is so much more than 1,100 that so far, we can say that it is "so much" better. Of course, we will see whether the situation will improve and whether the elections will be success. I hope so.

3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4. (I should also be counting the lives of Iraqis, but let me forget about them, especially about Saddam's supporters whom I don't care about so much.)

You are unbelievable.

5. Anonymous said: "You are unbelievable."

Well, we are probably supporting the opposite sides of the conflict, but I really do think that the persistent insurgents and terrorists in Iraq today simply MUST be eliminated, otherwise there will be no progress in Iraq.

6. Let me add some more words, David or whoever you are. ;-)

I am usually crying when I see children of Iraq (or their parents) who were injured, who lost someone, and so on.

But I also realize that becoming peaceful guys who don't care about the insurgents and who don't see other problems either is not a path to progress. People may be dying in Iraq, but these sad events are probably less frequent than executions during Saddam's rule. The improvement already exists now.

Some people just can't live under a regime that is friendly to the USA, and they prefer to fight and sacrifice their lives. While I always admire brave people, the admiration can't be unlimited. These people who continue to fight against the USA and against the new government are simply trying to revive a war that has been lost for them.

Moreover, they are fighting for values that are really not mine, and this drastically reduces my caring about their lives. I just don't know what can one do with them if they decide to add new serious problems - they ARE the problems.

In other words, their decision is simply suicide. These people, who continue to struggle, decided to commit suicide because they decided that their life would have a small enough value if they survived and surrendered. (Well, if they were powerful enough local guys under Saddam, it explains a lot.) And I agree with them. Especially if they can't live in freedom and democracy, as understood in America and elsewhere, their lives' value is limited, indeed. In this sense, committing suicide by trying to attack the US military may be a "good" decision for them. Sounds tough, but this is how the future looks like for these people. Clearly, some people are very stubborn, and they are obstacles to progress.

Moreover, even the nice, freedom-loving people in Iraq will have to work hard in order to feel (and not just feel) that their lives have the same value as the American lives or other lives. This is just not the case today, and only very naive or very hypocritical people can say that an Iraqi life has the same value as an American life, for example. They don't have the same value simply because the communities, societies, nations, countries cannot invest the same resources to protect every single life.

The only path to increase the value of the human life of all Iraqis is their support for the new legal system respecting democracy, freedom, the right to live, but also other human rights, economic rights - all these necessary assumptions for including Iraq into the "core" of the civilization where they once belonged - I mean 5000 years ago.

7. [LM] Moreover, even the nice, freedom-loving people in Iraq will have to work hard in order to feel (and not just feel) that their lives have the same value as the American lives or other lives. This is just not the case today, and only very naive or very hypocritical people can say that an Iraqi life has the same value as an American life, for example. They don't have the same value simply because the communities, societies, nations, countries cannot invest the same resources to protect every single life.

The only path to increase the value of the human life of all Iraqis is their support for the new legal system respecting democracy, freedom, the right to live, but also other human rights, economic rights - all these necessary assumptions for including Iraq into the "core" of the civilization where they once belonged - I mean 5000 years ago.
This is very peculiar statement. Do you think the value of our lives -- I mean American lives -- is a function of our political and economic circumstances, and not simply the fact that we are human? How does this square with your stance on abortion? I guess you mean that it's not so bad if poor people living under oppressive political systems die (or if their babies die) because they haven't earned the same right to life that Americans have.

In view of the world's limited resources I suppose that also means we should do as much as we can to keep those living outside the West (ie, the U.S. and Europe) from gaining access to those resources, because those people deserve them less than we do. If more of those people die as a result, so much the better; in that case they won't need any resources.

8. Yes, I definitely think that the value of human life is NOT just a matter of "being human". The way how the human life is valued depends on culture, dominant ideology, political situation, and also economical situation - because the economical situation decides whether one can invest enough resources to protect the human life.

It is just obvious that more primitive nations CANNOT, and even DO NOT invest sufficient resources to value and protect the human lives.

What I say is perfectly consistent with my anti-abortion position, too. I do want to belong to a society where the human life is something very important and valuable - but it's just not guaranteed automatically.

If there is another society where the human life has no (or little) value - or where the abortions, including the tough ones, are recommended standards, then I just can't do anything directly with it in most cases. For me, it just means that these societies are inferior within the humanity, but I have respect to their existence - well, these societies are more or less the "default" state that holds before the society reaches a certain civilization level.

I am not sure what should I think about your dreams to let other people from the third world die as much as they can. I personally don't want anything like that. On the other hand, it is absolutely obvious that the West must protect its integrity and we cannot unify with a poor country, for example, and let the people from there to have the same power to decide about politics of the unified country. That would be a real destruction of the civilization. Do you have any doubts about that?

It is first of all the task for the local people themselves to increase their quality of life, humanity, and so forth.