For my write-up today of Rosemary Ruether’s Gaia and God, I will feature two statements she makes about the first Iraq War. (Remember that this book was published in 1992.)
On pages 267-268, Ruether states:
“The United States oligarchies particularly received the end of the Cold War, not as a chance to revert to an ecologically sustainable, peacetime economy, but as a victory for ‘our side,’ to be used to consolidate their global hegemony. Immediately they began to search for new enemies to demonize, and thereby to justify new generations of weapons. They found one such enemy in Saddam Hussein, the leader of a middle-sized Arab country, who challenged their control over oil. And they proceeded to pulverize Iraq in a six-week air war in which they threw down upon it 50 percent more tonnage of bombs than were thrown on Vietnam over ten years. They then declared with satisfaction that the ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ is over; by which they meant any disposition to question the righteousness of the military way of ‘solving’ international disputes had been silenced.”
On page 287, Ruether refers to negative effects of the U.S. bombing of Iraq:
“The effect of the pinpoint bombing of the Iraqi military-industrial infrastructure was to release an ongoing plague of diseases caused by famine, polluted water, and lack of electricity and medicines, killing tens of thousands of the most vulnerable Iraqis, especially small children. This has been further aggravated by the embargo that continues after the war, preventing Iraq from selling oil and importing food and medicines…”
Over the past few months, I’ve been writing many posts days before their publication on my blog. Right now, as I write this one, the United States is bombing Libya, and I do not know what the situation will be like once this post appears. I have been reading discussions about the Libya situation among my friends. Some of them think that we would do well to get rid of Qadaffi, even if our motives are impure (and some have suggested that Obama has purer motives than Bush II did for his wars), for Qadaffi has killed so many people. Others lament that we may be getting ourselves into yet another war, after we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Is war ever justified? I do not know. But I will say this: Even if we’re doing something half-way moral, war comes at a terrible price. I remember the time of the first Iraq War, and I was proud when the United States and her coalition won. But I did not know about all the damage that had been done. I read conservatives who said that the Vietnam Syndrome was over—that we now didn’t have to be afraid to flex our muscle to challenge aggressors. And yet, that picture was overly rosy. Not long after that, even a lot of Republicans didn’t want America to go to war in Yugoslavia. Clinton sent troops to Somalia, and then he withdrew them. Then there was Afghanistan, “Mission Accomplished,” and Afghanistan becoming problematic once more. And there was also the second Iraq War, which took a lot of American and Iraqi lives. The Vietnam Syndrome is not over, for war is not a light thing, by any stretch of the imagination. It has the potential to become a quagmire. And even when it doesn’t become that, people still get hurt, even killed. As the Gerald McRaney character on the West Wing—General Adam Adamle—said to Leo McGarry, “All wars are crimes.”
That’s all I’ll say about this, for the time being.