Whistling In The Dark
Andrew Sullivan has a piece which will one day be called a classic of war-bloggery, entitled 'The body count rises in Iraq but so does hope' in today's Sunday Times.
Its profundity is staggering; "the capital is still not secure. No one sees an end to the appalling toll in human life that is occurring daily in post- invasion Iraq."
Its insight is awe-inspiring - "When you consider that many areas in Iraq are relatively calm, the intensity of the violence in the remainder is staggering".
Sullivan notes that 'the arrival of Zalmay Khalilzad as American ambassador to Iraq has improved the dynamic', and that 'Shi’ite restraint in the face of massive jihadist and Sunni provocation has been remarkable' (tell that to Steven Vincent).
He displays a grasp of the military and intelligence issues on the ground which deserves to have him appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - 'the chief backer of the insurgency, the Assad regime in Syria, is increasingly isolated'; precisely who apart from Sullivan and the other neos says the Syrians are behind the insurgency? On the basis of what actual information does he make this assumption?
One does hope that his belief that 'the Ayatollah Sistani model of moderate secularism in Shi’ite Iraq' may help 'bolster reformists in Iran'; but somehow one just can't help thinking that all the indicators in Iraq, the most important of which has been its constitutional acceptance of Sharia law, point to the country being an Islamic Republic within three to five years. It may just be the case that the positions of Iran and Iraq will reverse, the youth of Iran overthrowing the ayatollahs and embracing secularism while their Iraqi cousins face years of the burqa and the lash. We shall see.
However, Sullivan ends his piece on a note which manages to be both naive and cynical, bloody and bloodless. He notes,
"while every military death is a human tragedy, 2,000 American fatalities in the invasion and occupation in three years is historically low (though it should be remembered up to 30,000 Iraqis have been killed). I recall fearing up to 10,000 deaths in the taking of Baghdad before the invasion took place.
I have had moodswings before, of course. In this war, who hasn’t? But through the dark news of each day we would be foolish not to notice vistas of opportunity. This war is not over yet. And it is far too soon to give up."
And at precisely no point has he volunteered to participate in this project, except to cheer its furtherance on his own terms from the safest of distances. At no point has he been called upon to serve in the uniform of the country of which he has been permitted to become a citizen, and of which he enjoys the very best, while its young men and women are losing limbs and minds. At no point has he had the slightest appreciation that the culture which gave rise to all that he enjoys is the product of a Republican, not an Imperial, heritage.
It is somebody else who is fighting his war - and he has no business discussing it, apart from calling the administrators at his local VA hospital to find out how he can become a volunteer helper.