Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Before you vote for the escalation, Senators

You should look at these pictures. And these ones here. Not for the faint hearted.

My entire master's thesis was devoted to the idea that politicians have no concept of what they order soldiers to do, and that they make decisions to escalate or to attack or to invade with no real sense of what the human consequences are.

That's exactly what's going on here. First, unlike during the First and Second Wars, there are no consequences at home for declaring war or for expanding war: no rationing, no cut backs, no tax increases. And only a tiny, tiny fraction of the population is impacted: there is no draft, few politicians (or those beating the drums of war) have children in the military or have served (ahem, Dubya). It is not like the Second World War, where, for example, the Soviet Union suffered the equivalent of 9/11 ever 6 hours for 5 years. Most people simply don't know anyone who's died or even served.

And so they think of the war as yet another policy choice. It's a computer game. It's just a day to day decision, like shall we regulate the price of flax or what will we do about this particular regulation: the personal consequences are exactly the same. Zero.

Until you see these pictures. And then you realize that there is a titanic human component to the war (well, some of us see it in the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties. But I suspect most politicians, and indeed most americans who support the war, think that the wholesale slaughter of Iraqis is either a necessary cost of the goal of the war, or not a real problem, since people who don't speak english who live on the other side of the world that you only see through a TV Screen aren't really people.)

I'm all for a constitutional amendment requiring a personal stake before any politician can vote for war.

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