Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Old Lie

So now Obama and McCain have both been forced to apologize for, um, speaking factually.

Barack Obama:
We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized, and should have never been waged, and on which we've now spent $400 billion, and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.
John McCain:
"We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives."
Fred Clark:
Two leading senators, one from each party, have used the word "wasted" and yet we are not allowed to ask if their use of this term might, in any sense, be accurate. All we can manage to ask is whether or not the senators will offer an apology to anyone who might take offense at the possibility that soldiers' lives -- in this particular case, or ever, even in the abstract -- might have been sacrificed for naught, i.e., wasted.

This is lethal foolishness.

Is it still too early to say that America wasted -- yes, wasted -- 60,000 lives in Vietnam? How about the Kaiser's Germany? Too early to say those millions were wasted?

Lives are wasted in war because war is a waste. It is failure. It is the definition of a negative-sum game: everyone is worse off then they could be otherwise. Even the winners are worse off. But, when leaders are foolish enough to start wars that they then lose, there's no excuse for mincing words. America will not have achieved its goals in Iraq. America will lose. American soldiers will have died for nothing. They will have been wasted.

The lesson to draw is that wars are bad, and you shouldn't start them. That it has to be said -- in my case, said over and over on this blog (apologies to regulars) -- is maddening.


DavidLJ said...

There seems to be no appreciation for the irony that "wasted" has another meaning.

Americans in Vietnam "wasted," i.e. killed, about two million Vietnamese in the Kennedy/MacNamara war.

Currently the Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld/Cheney bunch seem to have wasted about half a million Iraqis, with the toll still climbing.

Closet Liberal said...

No soldier wants to believe their sacrifice was a waste. However, the loss of life in a war is always a waste. The soldier needs to believe that their sacrifice is not in vain, that it goes towards a greater good, so it is not a complete waste. To believe otherwise would destroy the morale of the army.

This line between necessary waste and unnecessary waste is a logical dichotomy. It is infuriating that others maintain the illusion of necessary waste to protect the soldiers from the truth. That is the greater disservice. Now you are lying to them and patronizing and you are propagating the continued wasteful effort.

It is of service to the men and women and uniform to shout out that the Iraq war was and is a waste of lives. Its making things worse not better. The sooner that realization is truly achieved the sooner the unnecessary waste can stop. Also the sooner one can objectively look for a realistic solution to make things better in Iraq.