We didn’t start the fire, we can’t put it out

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2007, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

But if we don’t send more troops, Iraq will fall into civil war!

Hello… it’s already fallen. And as long as US troops are there, it can’t get up.

The Bushies and their pro-war minions speak of civil war like it’s a bad thing. Moreover, they insist that if the US pulls out and allows Iraq to wallow in the muck and mire of its own self-destructive hatred, it would be our fault. We removed Saddam Hussein, therefore, we’re responsible for everything that follows and must clean up the mess — that old Pottery Barn “you broke it, you buy it” logic.

Bullpuckey. Maybe we broke a pot or two, but the Iraqis are making a shambles of the whole shop. The sectarian violence in Iraq goes back for centuries. There’s a line in a Billy Joel song that says, “We didn’t start the fire…” What makes us think we can put it out? With promises of Salad Shooters in every home and a Starbucks on every corner?

The Sunnis and Shiites are hell-bent on destroying each other, and obviously it required Saddam Hussein’s iron fist to keep things under control. Maybe it takes poison gas, gang rapes and flesh-ripping attack dogs to keep religious fanatics in line. Think long and hard about that.

In retrospect, Daddy Bush wasn’t the limp-wristed wussie he was portrayed to be after backing away from capturing Saddam the first time around in Desert Storm. (Side note: Should the names of activities designed to maim, kill and destroy sound like a pack of sage and sandalwood incense?) No, Daddy Bush was very wise in merely pulling Kuwait out by the scruff of its neck and leaving Saddam in place.

Sadly, what Daddy Bush feared is exactly what Junior made happen: Take the Saddam lid off the pot and it boils over. But the fire was lit underneath it long before we got there. We can blow on it all we want, but the religious extremists have unlimited reserves of hatred to keep stoking the fire.

Why are even trying to stop the pot from boiling? We’re only prolonging the inevitable. Why not pull our troops out and let the civil war run its course? So what if religious radicals kill each other? This would be a bad thing because… why? Aren’t they doing us a favor? If we can get cancer to eat cancer, we’d be crazy to cure it. Let ‘em have at it. Dog eat dog. Survival of the fittest. If it’s good enough for Mother Nature, it’s good enough for Iraq.

Before you go all apoplectic in shock and horror, might I point out the incredible hypocrisy of attempting to deter a civil war in Iraq, when “we” wouldn’t even exist without the same. Our own Revolutionary War was, in essence, a civil war -- British citizen fighting British citizen. Had Spain or France stepped in to prevent it, we wouldn’t be the United States of America, we’d be the biggest of the British Isles.

Then there’s “the” Civil War, North against South. More Americans died in that war than any other. Was it worth it? The short answer is no. Had we let the South go, good riddance, I say. The long answer, however, is that the Civil War was the beginning of the end of slavery in this country. As long as slavery existed here, “We The People” were just pretty words on pretty paper. The Civil War put democracy’s money where its mouth is.

This weekend, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, which is only possible because of the Civil War. That war opened the gate to the path of equality. Blacks have come a long way down that path, and they aren’t quite “there” yet, not as long as anyone still asks “Can a black man be President?” They’ll be “there” when that question sounds as ludicrous as “Can someone with brown hair be President?” But at least we’re moving toward it, and only because no one prevented our Civil War.

So. Why deny Iraqis their own civil war? Don’t they too have the right to fight for what they believe in, even if they believe in reverting to the 9th Century and keeping their women under tablecloths? If that’s what they really want, who are we to tell them they can’t have it? Isn’t that what Democracy’s all about? Or do we only want Democracy for Iraqis as long as they want what we want them to want?