Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The news from Spain today is that ETA let off a bomb at the Madrid trade fair / convention center. Over 40 people were injured but none seriously, so it turned out to be just a scare.

There seems to be a growing tone of guarded optimism around here in reaction to the news of the cease-fire agreement made at Sharm el Sheikh and Condi Rice's appearance in Paris. American policy seems to be on a winning streak. I'll bet within a couple or three days we'll start seeing some expressions of real hope out of the Spanish press. We'll keep you posted. I also think it's becoming much more clear to the average José over here that the "resistance" are a bunch of terrorist killers, as they tried to sabotage the elections and then have continued to murder Iraqis.

You know, I think that Iraq Body Count has, despite its obvious partiality, has given us a clear perspective of the cost of the war on Iraq. They say that about 16,000 civilians have been killed since the Anglo-American invasion, according to generally accepted journalistic reports. They do not say, of course, though it's obvious from their case file, that probably 90% of those killed are victims of the terrorists. They add that the number of identified and proven dead civilians is over 3000; that number, to me, is the absolute bottom possible. I'm willing to believe the 16,000 figure as the possible ceiling, though that would require an average death toll of more than 20 a day, which seems high to me. But then I only know what I read in the media.

The question is: is getting rid of Saddam, eliminating his military threats and terrorist activities, and establishing a reasonably free government in Iraq worth between 3000 and 16,000 civilians dead? Not if you're one of those people, and not likely if they're in your family. But I dunno. In World War II we certainly killed hundreds of thousands of enemy civilians, and Germany, Japan, and Italy have all since become civilized places. Was it worth it to kill all those German and Japanese kids and mothers and old people? Well, the world is certainly a much better place than it was in 1945, that's for sure.

I guess for me it comes down to motive. If your motive is to deliberately kill civilian people, like the Anglo-American terror bombings of Germany and Japan, that's evil. Did it have to be done? Well, the war had to be won and we could not be finicky about our methods, but you can justify almost anything with that logic. This time, though, in Iraq, we tried to minimize civilian dead and wounded to as few as possible. The motive wasn't to kill them. The current Western alliance, to my knowledge, is the only one in world history to fight wars while actively trying to kill as few civilians as possible.

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