Monday, November 21, 2005

Iraq and Terri Schiavo

Two subjects some readers of EM find hard to digest are Freethinker posts (my weekly Sunday Sermonettes) and posts about the Iraq mistake. They wonder what they have to do with public health. I addressed both in a series of posts in August (here, here, here, here and here). With the Iraq issue heating up in Congress as a result of congressman Murtha's epiphany (better late than never), we'll weigh in again.

If hundreds of billions of dollars badly needed by public health and social services were put into a big bonfire that also burned people to death, we don't think we would have to justify it as a public health topic. So we won't bother. Instead we'll pop in this post from John Aravosis at Americablog:
Iraq is Terri Schiavo
by John in DC - 11/19/2005 04:51:00 PM

The Republicans' main argument for the US staying in Iraq is that if we leave Iraq it will become an even bigger disaster. To wit, the following remarks from the conservative Weekly Standard about Murtha:

REP. JACK MURTHA has had a distinguished congressional career. But his outburst last Thursday was breathtakingly irresponsible. Nowhere in his angry and emotional call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq did the Pennsylvania Democrat bother to ask, much less answer, the most serious questions his proposal raises. What would be the likely outcome in Iraq if the United States pulled out? Does Murtha actually believe the Iraqi people could fight the al Qaeda terrorists and Saddam Hussein loyalists by themselves once American forces left? He does not say. In fact, he knows perfectly well that the Iraqi people are not yet capable of defending themselves against the monsters in their midst and that, therefore, a U.S. withdrawal would likely lead to carnage on a scale that would dwarf what is now occurring in Iraq.

And the Weekly Standard is right. If we leave Iraq, all hell will break loose. But we still should leave, and here's why.

1. Iraq is a mess.

2. If the US leaves, all hell (more hell) WILL break loose, as described by the Weekly Standard, above.

3. But if the US stays, all hell will still break loose. We're not winning the war, 80% of the Iraqi public wants us out, 45% of the Iraqi public wants us dead (these are true poll numbers), US military deaths are increasing rather than decreasing, and our continued presence has been a boon for Al Qaeda recruitment and training.

4. The US military occupation of Iraq is simply prolonging the inevitable. Iraq is going to fall apart at the seams, with us or without us - it's only a question of when.

5. Thus, the debate isn't whether we should or shouldn't let Iraq fall apart. The only question we need to settle is whether it's worth the price - in terms of both US military deaths and the benefit our presence bestows on Al Qaeda - for the US to help prolong Iraq's certain death.

Iraq is Terri Schiavo.

Already dead, living on borrowed time, but the Republicans refuse to accept the inevitable. Yes, you can prolong the patient's life for decades. But at what cost, and for what real benefit?

The day a Republican responds to THIS argument, rather than simply saying "but Iraq will fall apart if we leave," that's the day we start having a REAL debate about Iraq in this country. In the meantime, the Republicans will keep scouring the videos for signs of life in a patient who's long-since checked out.
And when the US exacerbated fury subsides, we should figure out a way to pay reparations.

Update, 11/22/05: They want us out and they want a timetable. And US soldiers are fair game.