Escalating in Afghanistan
Buried deep in the New York Times is an article reporting on the increasing level of civilian deaths in Afghanistan. According to the NYT 1013 civilians have died in the first six months of 2009. Alas how fleeting was the concern for the lives of Afghans so recently on exhibit as a good number of deaths are a direct result of U.S. air strikes. Though the Times divides up the causes of death into different categories attributing more civilian deaths to “Insurgents” all the deaths are directly or indirectly a result of our presence. In other words it’s really our fault these people are dead whether or not they were actually killed by Americans. The article also notes an increase in American deaths. There seems to be a lot of death, no shortage of it anywhere and the stench of it hangs heavy like a pall of smoke around Obama and his administration.
Reading the news I notice that the Afghan-Pakistan War is often seen through the lens of whether or not the war is going well or going badly. It is as if to say that if the war is going well then everything is actually okay. Even people who oppose the wars will frame their discussions within the boundaries of going well or going badly. It seems to me that as soon as you base an argument against the wars on the well or badly concept that you have already lost the argument. A small point I suppose yet what does it matter if the war is going well or badly if your point is that the war is wrong in the first place.
An example of this happened in mid-July when the U.S. became “very concerned” over the numerous civilian deaths resulting from U.S. airstrikes. It must have occurred to someone that people don’t enjoy being murdered no matter how glorious the goals or how illustrious and wise the president may be. It must have been quite the epiphany yet the main concern was not so much the deaths as it was over the effect the deaths were having on the war effort. Of course reading the more recent article telling of the increased levels of civilian deaths illustrates how quickly forgotten the civilians were. The idea that you can wage war without heavy civilian casualties is simply preposterous to begin with. Sometimes it is unbelievable the kind of garbage we are expected to swallow as long as it emanates from an authority figure. I expect the newfound and newly forgotten concern over civilian deaths was meant more as fodder for the liberal war hawks allowing them to feel noble more than anything else. It certainly had nothing to do with reality.
This is the age of reinvention where topics and things once thought to be understood have drifted off into an antiseptic fantasy world. Torture has been reinvented as harsh interrogation techniques or whatever, to make the gruesome more palatable. Naked aggression has been reinvented as “preemptive” that is to say any imagined danger can result in any nation being “liberated” another reinvention in its own right. Murder is called collateral damage. Call it what you will but never call it what it is, that’s the philosophy of the day. The neocons once said that we make our own reality and most scoffed at the idea yet I beg to differ as truer words were never spoken. Not only do we create our reality we also reinvent our own history through the things we read in the news and what we hear from our Dear leaders with their facile creativity for reinventing what already exists under different names. The mistake the neocons made was believing that they were somehow unique in this as we have always done this since time immemorial. Perhaps what some don’t realize or never considered is that a world view is a reality, literally. Our world view or reality is shaped by our own culture, it is a set of beliefs and assumptions often erroneous. And there are as many world views as there are different cultures. But there is one concrete item we can count on and that is that war is war no matter what you call it with its accompanying misery, needless death, and destruction.