Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Losing it

I was just reading a WaPo article about doctors participating in torture (oh, sorry, I mean interrogation) in Guantanamo and Iraq and, well. . . I lost it.

In the 1960s we had a bumper sticker that read, "War is not healthy for children and other living things." Duh. Think about it. That's not a rhetorical statement. Really do think about it. In the first three years of the 21st century, Afghanistan had the most casualties [.pdf] from landmines and unexploded ordnance anywhere in the world. The ordnance is cluster bombs dropped from altitude by Americans. Add in the combatants, by-standers, displaced and broken families, environmental destruction. Go ahead, add them in. Do it. If you think about it--and I mean really think about it--it makes no sense at all. None.

Anybody with more than a couple of neurons firing and not using half of them to breathe and the other half to drink coffee with can see that a deliberate policy of coercive force to achieve political objectives doesn't fit any conceivable public health agenda, anywhere, anytime. If you are a politician or a general maybe you can twist your brain around to entertain the idea. If you are a public health professional you can't. Not now, not ever. On purely public health grounds. I am not discussing self-defense here. As a species self-defense is hard-wired into our nervous systems or we wouldn't have survived. I'm talking about a deliberate policy of using force to achieve a political objective. Whether you are a political group without state sanction (a.k.a., a "terrorist") or a nation-state (a.k.a., a "country") it is not only "wrong" in some moral sense but doesn't net out positively. You lose more than you gain. In Iraq that will be the case for all sides.

OK. I'm done. For the moment. And I don't feel better.