Hey, Mr. President: War is all about the brutality

August 06, 2005|By GREGORY KANE

MY DEAR Mr. President:

After 14 Marines were killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq this week, you responded to the tragedy in what I find a curious fashion.

According to news reports, you accused America's enemies in Iraq of using "brutal tactics."

Well, duh: Isn't that why it's called war?

Believe me, I'm not one of those folks who question your intelligence on a regular basis. But with this latest comment of yours - which falls somewhere between blatantly moronic and just plain moronic - I have to wonder.

It's reminiscent of that question you put to then-Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso several years ago.

"Do you have blacks, too?" you asked the head of a country with one of the largest black populations in the Western hemisphere.

Yes, Mr. President. Brazil does indeed "have blacks, too." Your question might have shown why those black and African-American studies college courses some conservatives sneer at might not be such a bad idea.

Had you taken one, you would have learned that not only does Brazil "have blacks, too," but that those blacks played a significant role in the development and history of that country, as they have in many countries of the Western hemisphere. You might have saved yourself the embarrassment of asking a silly question.

I have no idea what can save you from the embarrassment of accusing Iraqi insurgents of using "brutal tactics." When you proposed this war to the American people and to Congress, did you think our troops were going to kill the enemy but that the enemy wasn't going to kill us? Have you ever known of a war where "brutal tactics" weren't used by both sides?

It's bad enough that you continue to justify this war by claiming that we're trying to build democracy in Iraq, as if democracy is something that can be imposed at gunpoint. You seem woefully unaware that the democracy you want to export is not the kind of government we have here in the United States.

This country is a republic, which differs significantly from a democracy. We're a republic where powers are shared between state governments and the federal government, which has three branches with a series of checks and balances on each other's powers.

You were elected president in 2000 precisely because this country is a republic, not a democracy. No democratic government would have an electoral college, which is where you won the presidency. If the United States were a democracy, former Vice President Al Gore would probably be president now because he won the popular vote in 2000.

I'll let slide your not knowing how the government of our country operates. But this business of going to war and somehow expecting the enemy to play nice needs addressing. Wherever did you get such a pickle-headed notion?

Let me tell you something about "brutal tactics." Brutal tactics kill the enemy. Brutal tactics make the enemy quit. Brutal tactics win wars.

So our foes in Iraq are using "brutal tactics"? Quit whining and order our troops to use more brutal tactics.

Many Americans don't want to hear that. You might be one of them. But it's the truth. You don't mind telling the American people the truth, do you?

Brutality wins wars, which are brutal by definition. Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman believed that, which is why he called war "hell." The Union resorted to much brutality in subduing the Confederacy during the War Between the States. Any Missourian who has ancestors who lived in the western part of the state during the Civil War can tell you.

They probably still remember - and are still smarting from - General Order 11, which allowed the forced evacuation of the population of several counties because the inhabitants were considered sympathetic to Confederate guerrillas operating in the region. Some of the evacuees were imprisoned in stockades and had their homes and farms burned. That episode made the relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese nationals in the United States during World War II seem downright compassionate in comparison.

Did you not know this was going to be a long, hard, brutal war when you asked us to embark on it? Did you not know that it took the French three years to defeat Algerian guerrillas who were largely confined to the Casbah in the city of Algiers in the 1950s? Did you not know the French used tactics such as torturing suspects and summary execution of guerrillas? That the French won the Battle of Algiers but eventually lost the battle for Algeria only shows the futility of occupying Iraq.

Just how brutal are you willing to be in Iraq? If brutality is something you can't stomach, then you should step down or pull our troops out. Apparently, the cadre of advisers who urged you to undertake this Iraq venture forgot to tell you one thing:

In a battle of bad cats, the baddest cat usually wins.

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