In 1971, decorated Vietnam War veteran turned antiwar activist John Kerry asked a Senate committee, “How do you ask a man to be the last man killed in Vietnam?”
Today we need to ask an updated question: what is the centrist number of people killed in Iraq?
[Example headline: “Democrats Push Toward Middle On Iraq Policy,” WashPost Sept. 13, 2007]
Twentieth-century physics upended previous ideas about time,
space and mass. Mass converts into energy; energy changes rather than being
gained or lost; time and space are relative to each other. Albert Einstein, he
of the adorable face, space-physics hair, and loving eyes, combined some
premier principles into one simple formula.
Heading into the 21stcentury–and stuck in Iraq, unless we the people do something about it–we need to apply some equally lucid conversion principles to the Iraq war.
Here is the simple formulation: the more time we spend in Iraq, the more lives lost.
Time translates to death. More time translates to more death and injury. Less time translates to less death and injury.
This is the formulation that the White House, the GOP in Congress, and most Republican candidates for the White House, with the honorable exception of Ron Paul, do not want mentioned. They keep trying to change the real formulation – more time means more fatalities – into the bogus alchemy of self-serving rhetoric – less time means ‘failure,’ while for unspecific reasons more time in Iraq means ‘success.’ Pulling out – that is, reducing our losses of life, limb and treasure suffered–means ‘losing,’ and staying means–again, for unspecified reasons– ‘victory.’
The real loss was going in. The real failure was the immoral, illegal and unconstitutional invasion of another country.
Meanwhile, top-crust administration figures and their allies in the large media outlets keep using a similar head-banging Orwellian lexicon to characterize the big argument about the war. People who want us out of Iraq, in this War-Is-Peace twist, are “left”–never mind public survey polls showing that a solid majority of Americans want us out of there. People who insist on our staying in Iraq, on whatever omigod pretext, are characterized as “conservative”–never mind that Congressman Paul (R-Texas) and many of his supporters are conservative, as are publications such as Chronicles Magazine that have consistently opposed the war.
Most grating of all, officeholders and candidates for office who keep us stuck in Iraq by waffling publicly, temporizing instead of taking a stand, are characterized as “centrists,” or “moderates” as in a series of Washington Post items about Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, designated “the anguished moderate.”
Virtually all the big media outlets have adopted this terminology, even though this kind of language desecrates the very notion of language– English–as communication.
More time in Iraq means more casualties. Less time in Iraq means fewer casualties. It’s that simple. So what is the ‘moderate’ number of young American servicemen and servicewomen to be injured or worse? Even aside from the fact that we are currently nearing the 4,000 mark, what was the ‘moderate’ position on the acceptable amount of death, injury, psychological trauma, sexual assaults and domestic violence, and all the other ills connected with war, going into Iraq? Now that we are nearing the 4,000 mark for deaths, what is the ‘moderate’ quota for American death in Iraq and Afghanistan? What, for that matter, is the moderate quota for killed and wounded Iraqis?
What is the ‘centrist’ number of deaths in Iraq?