Monday, October 17, 2005

Rumors of my Demise ... On the Iraqi Vote 

Wow, two months already? A couple of high-demand releases coupled with two ADTs (temporary Active Duty) can sure drag on your time. Interesting to note that this site is still routinely getting at least 25 hits a week, so I guess the RSS 'bots are doing their jobs. Does make me wonder, though, what the hit stats of the bigger boys really mean, since they also have an order of magnitude more 'bots tracking them. Lookout blogs, you'll be next to have your published circulation questioned.

A recently published triumphant post at Spiral of Lies in regard to the past weekend's vote in Iraq offered Why it was worth it. A reader (manateechick) seemed to disagree:
So you really think it's okay to kill tens to hundreds of thousands of innocents in order to make "Iraq the vanguard of Western values in the Middle-East"?
1.) Why do you think it's okay to achieve your goals that way?
2.) Why do you think that the whole world must have "Western values"? Please don't say because all non-Western values lead to terrorism, because only a small percentage of non-Western beliefs lead to terrorism
I pointed out to that her questions were implicitly based upon two assumptions with which I did not agree.

The first assumption is that Coalition actions in Iraq have "kill[ed] tens to hundreds of thousands of innocents." A assume the basis for the upper bound (~100,000) is the flawed and oft filleted Lancet "study." The statistical errors and poor methodology in reaching that estimate have been reviewed and demonstrated repeatedly. In any event, even if we accept the Lancet's 98,000 excess deaths as truth, that acceptance still carries the assumption that Coalition Forces bear full responsibility for the estimated 60,000 deaths attributed to post-invasion violence and that none of the self-reported deaths were anti-Coalition combatants (neither Iraqi Army, Republican Guard, insurgent nor terrorist). I assume the basis for the lower range (10,000+) are sources like Iraqi body count, who admittedly use a methodology that includes hostages that have been beheaded by terrorists and children that have intentionally blown-up by terrorists as civilian casualties resulting from the occupation. Both of these sources rely upon this assumption of responsibility, regardless of actor. Using this same thought process, one might contend a woman should be held responsible should her psychotic ex-boyfriend kill her coworker in an attempt to dissuade her from dating. I doubt if Manateechick in her capacity as an attorney would offer such a defense, and so question why she seems to accept it as a reasonable way to assign "responsibility" in this case.

The second assumption is that the phrase "Western values" as used by the previous posters implies a cultural evaluation or attempt to supplant. When I read that phrase, in context, I saw "Western values" being offered in juxtaposition not to the regional culture, but rather as an alternative to the entrenched totalitarian political regimes that are rife in the Middle East. "Western values" have nothing to do with which religion you practice, but have everything to do with idea that neither your neighbor nor your government has a right to treat you differently based upon your faith. "Western values" have nothing to do with how many wives you may have but have everything to do with ensuring every wife is valued as an individual human being and affording the same rights (and responsibilities) as any other citizen. "Western values" have nothing to do with Coke, Hollywood, McDonald's, Microsoft, Fox News or any other corporate entity but have everything to do with allowing each citizen the freedom to individually decide if they wish to patronize the chain restaurant or eat at Achmed's, if they want to see "Animal House" or take their children to "March of the Penguins," and recognizing their freedom to go where they want on the internet and to talk to whomever they wish. "Western values," to my thinking, simply entail ensuring that each person has the right and ability, individually and collectively, to decide the course of their lives and country.

So, with that in mind, I will answer her questions, stating that I believe firmly that the whole world should most certainly have "Western values" as I understand them to be, because that is the value set historically demonstrated to yield both the greatest personal freedom and happiness as well as create the most macro-peaceful environment. Given these benefits I would further hazard to say, in the long-term, it is indeed "worth" the nebulously unquantified (yet demonstrably inflated) costs to which she alluded.

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