Friday, 31 January 2003

Being gratuitously offensive

Sean-Paul Kelley is being a flaming jackass:

What I do want to say is that all of you warbloggers out there are [expletive] pathetic. Young American men and women are going to die very soon. And like the poem I quoted in the previous post you are all "smug-faced crowds with kindling eye/Who cheer when soldier lads march by" and you [expletive] better "sneak home and pray you'll never know/The hell where youth and laughter go."

Frankly, I'm not even sure why I'm linking to his offensive rhetoric; it certainly doesn't deserve any publicity. But here's my response.

The use of military force to achieve political goals is rarely justifiable. This, however, is one of those circumstances: it is abundantly clear that the government of Iraq, and in particular its leader Saddam Hussein, have no intention of complying with the express will of the international community, as articulated unanimously in UNSC Resolution 1441. Hussein has for twelve years defied numerous binding UNSC resolutions, violated the cease-fire agreement that concluded the first Gulf War, and engaged in mass murder of his own people. There is considerable evidence that his regime has harbored terrorists in its territory and aided and abetted terrorists in other states. These incontrovertible facts justify the intervention of the United States and other countries, as specifically authorized by UNSC Resolution 1441, to enforce the will of the Security Council and international community through military action.

It is likely that many Americans, Australians, Britons and others will die as a result of this action. Depending on how loyal Iraq's military is to Saddam Hussein, it is possible that many Iraqi civilians and soldiers will die as well. It is entirely possible that Iraq will also attack uninvolved parties, leading to the deaths of Israelis (Arabs and Jews). People die in wars; the best we can hope for is that our leaders will minimize the number of casualties on all sides by neutralizing Iraq's ability to kill our forces, its own people, and those of its neighbors.

I do not relish war. Twelve years ago I watched Americans go to war with Iraq from the military base in Britain where my father was stationed. Before I was born my father helped fight in Southeast Asia as a navigator on AC-130 gunships. Many of my parents' friends similarly served to defend our country, and some of those friends have made the ultimate sacrifice, whether in training or in battle; some of those friends' names appear on the Vietnam Memorial. My grandfather's brother was imprisoned as a POW for several years by the Chinese during the Korean War; he simply disappeared soon after his return after Korea, and we never heard from him again. People I know and respect are almost certainly on the front lines of this war.

Make no mistake. War is no videogame; on this we agree. But it is a slander of the worst order to assume that Andrew Sullivan and other so-called “chicken hawks” do not appreciate the sacrifices of our troops, or the reality of war. There is a right way to support our armed forces — the words of Jay Reding, who Sean-Paul links to, spring to mind — but to insult those who don't make a public display of soul-searching on the war is offensive and reeks of unjustified smug moral superiority.