Yesterday, I wrote about the U.S. military offensive that is currently taking place against Iraqi insurgents in Diyala Province in Iraq. The New York Times is reporting that six U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday in that operation. Let’s examine the meaning of their deaths in the larger context of U.S. foreign policy.
The first thing to keep in mind is that neither the Iraqi people nor the Iraqi government had anything to do with 9/11. Neither of them had ever attacked the United States when the U.S. government invaded Iraq.
Yet today, U.S. officials tell us that Iraq is filled with “terrorists,” an amorphous term that includes Iraqi insurgents who are trying to end the foreign occupation of their country. U.S. troops are killing these “terrorists,” U.S. officials tell us, in order to protect “our freedoms” here in the United States. That’s what those six soldiers died for yesterday, U.S. officials would say.
Pardon me but isn’t there something faulty with such reasoning?
Let’s assume that Country A attacks Country B and that citizens of Country B organize a resistance to the invasion and even plan counter-attacks against Country A.
Can Country A claim that the resistance to its invasion and occupation and the counterattacks by the citizens of Country B now provide moral and legal justification for its invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Country B?
Can Country A really claim that its soldiers are dying for “freedom” because they are killing citizens of Country B who are resisting the invasion and who are also planning counterattacks on Country A?
By that line of reasoning, wouldn’t modern-day Germans be able to argue that Germany’s invasion of Poland was morally and legally justified because of the resistance that Polish citizens put up against the German invasion and occupation of their country and by their plans to counterattack Germany?
Now, some people argue that it is okay for U.S. forces to occupy Iraq and kill Iraqis because Iraqi citizens who are resisting the occupation of their country have aligned themselves with al-Qaeda. But again, didn’t this take place after the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Or to put it another way, didn’t the invasion itself produce this phenomenon? Or to put it another way, didn’t the U.S. invasion produce the very terrorist threat that is now being used to justify the continued occupation of the country and the continued killing of Iraqi people?
Among the many rationales that the Bush administration provided for invading Iraq was the “magnet” rationale. The notion was that by invading Iraq, the country would serve as a “magnet” for al-Qaeda terrorists so that U.S. forces could fight al-Qaeda there rather than here in the United States. In my article “Is Bush’s War on Terrorism a War Crime?” I explained how that rationale was a ludicrous and immoral attempt to justify the war crime of attacking and invading another country.
It’s ludicrous because human beings are not iron filings. They have the ability to make choices. A member of al-Qaeda can choose whether to come to the United States to commit a terrorist attack or go to Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers. He is not deprived of that choice simply because U.S. troops in Iraq make easier targets.
Second, where is the morality of using a third country, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, to serve as magnet battlefield, especially since hundreds of thousands of citizens of the magnet country are going to have to die and their entire country is going to be destroyed in the process?
Third, why would it surprise anyone that third parties, such as al-Qaeda and others in the Middle East, would come to the defense of Iraqi citizens trying to oust their country of an unlawful invader and occupier? After all, didn’t the U.S. government come to the assistance of Afghani insurgents who were doing their best to oust their country of the Soviet invader and occupier? Didn’t U.S. officials and Osama bin Laden, a foreigner, even enter into a partnership to help Afghanis oust the Soviets from Afghanistan?
As I wrote yesterday, the Diyala operation is a microcosm of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. government embarks on a course of action that produces the anger and rage that gives rise to people who wish to attack U.S. forces and the United States. Then, the U.S. government claims, “The terrorist threat (that we produced) proves that we were right to take such action in the first place. This is why we must continue the action — to kill the terrorists (that we produced and continue to produce with our killing). Our troops are dying to protect our freedoms from such terrorists.”