Saturday, July 21, 2007

Throwing Good Money and Lives After Bad

I'm beginning to get it. Those on the left and more than a few on the right are convinced that we cannot attain the results we want in Iraq. No amount of money, guns, or boots on the ground is going to convince these dumb Iraqis to stop killing each other over centuries' old grievances, and tribal annoyances. The issue isn't so much one of ideology, but just plain practicality. Why waste more effort, spend more money, and risk more American blood to chase an illusory dream.

The battle from the right isn't much more ideological either. Americans have made this huge investment. We should finish the job. The risks in money and blood is worth it. The potential risks of walking away are substantial.

I don't know if the average reader of this blog understands that the Iraqis are looked at by others in the region as the lowlifes of the Middle East. Iranians (Persians), Turks, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, and Saudis all look down their noses at the scrabble in Iraq. The triumphant era of Babylon is far too distant in comparison to the more recent successes of their neighbors. Unconsciously, I think all Westerners do see this population as the Pollocks of the region (pardon my un PC description, but it is the comparative stereotyping that appealed to me, not any real sense of mine that Polish folks are not as smart as say, Frenchmen.)

So the practical among us, may really be wondering why we are spending so much to save so unseemly a bunch of ragtag thugs. Maybe this is really the issue with our lack of substantial effort in Darfur. Maybe it really isn't racism, as much as it is just cutism. (I am copyrighting that term as of this posting.) Cutism (I will now define my new term) is the very human inclination to be more interested in saving cute things than ugly things.

Please raise your hand if you have ever read an article in the paper about a tragic death, checked the picture, and thought: "not much of a loss." How many campaigns are well funded to save some endangered snake, moth, or rodent? How come the year-long saga's of missing individuals or unsolved murders are almost always cute blond women?

If Iraq's population were cuter and fuzzier, were contributing more to Western Culture by way of art, films, literature, great food or wine, or were passionately fierce fighters for justice, spending another couple of years there would probably be a no brainer.

So Bush and friends, I've maintained for a long time that the failure of your administration in the public opinion polls (not in the results of your governance) is due to horrible communication. If you want to finish the job in Iraq, we need some PR for them as a people. Pictures with flies on open sores have been overdone and are better at getting folks to let go of $26 a month. No, we need some very attractive men and women that are still in Iraq, to become spokesfolks for their fellow countrymen. Otherwise, General Petraeus, you better have some great stats in September. Americans like great stats, too. But I'd start working the PR angle as a back up.

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