Friday, July 01, 2005

Wasted Lives

After dedicating yesterday’s post to a little self-indulgence and novel flogging, the scribe returns to the war.

highwayscribery would like to focus on a very interesting article by Jack Miles that takes neither side, but in the fashion of a true philosopher (which the gentleman is), reaches for insight that goes beyond the posturing of our two reigning cultural/political tribes to something more ethical.

For those of you who are unaware, Miles was editor of the “L.A. Times Book Review” in days happier days than present ones. He is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for a fascinating book called “God: A Biography,” which is a literary take on God, the character, in a book called the Bible.

The Supreme One comes out of the whole analysis looking pretty darn human, certainly flawed, even (in popular parlance) a bit of a bitch.

When the scribe was managing editor at the “L.A. Downtown News,” Miles wrote a letter praising his work on an article about the deceased New York poet, Frank O’Hara. He said the scribe should be demoted from his present position to that of an art critic, but given a raise.

That’s the kind of stuff that keeps you going when your toiling in the lower registers of American journalism, 'cause the pay's insufficient to the task of inspiration.

Later, when he received an invitation to check out highwayscribery, Miles declined and got huffy about “having to do a lot of deleting,” [of e-mails] which did not strike the scribe as very Pulitzery, but these genius types can be temperamental.

Anyway, this is about Miles’ wonderful piece that appeared in the “L.A. Times” on June 29 and which can be found at,0,3875049.story.

It is entitled “Only Death Will Win”

Miles begins the piece with a hypothetical parallel to present day Iraq wherein the United States, ruled by a brutal dictatorship, is invaded by an “uninvited foreign power” with an eye to liberating it. The comparable cost to what Iraq is presently paying would be 296,000 deaths out of our current population of 296 million.

But here’s the writer: “American political rhetoric constantly invokes the nearly 3,000 killed on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York – as a rallying cry, an intolerable sacrifice, an epic tragedy. But imagine if between then and now we had sustained two or three such losses every month. In May, Iraq suffered 702 civilian deaths. The proportionate American loss would be 7,992 killed or about 9/11 times three.”

He observes how supporters of the current war always conjure up the lame specter of an Iraq with Hussein still in power and makes the case that Saddam was boxed-in, not on the march, and certainly not immortal.

“His downfall would have come eventually – without the catastrophic slaughter set in motion in a country that had never attacked the U.S. militarily or supplied weapons to even one anti-American terrorist.”

The Bush administration would, and does, take exception to that last claim, but who save for its stubborn supporters, more concerned with admitting their error to “liberals” than acting in the country’s best interests, believes that anymore?

(that last part’s the scribe, not Miles)

The war, he declares, has been a “colossal blunder”, but unlike others who hold the same position (like the scribe) Miles suggests pulling out now would “only increase the cruel cost of invading in the first place.

“But at some point we will withdraw, and young Americans are tough enough to hear the truth that when our forces leave, they will not have brought about the ‘total victory' that President Bush so vaingloriously insists is ‘our only goal, our only option.’

“We are aiming for much less. Just how much less remains to be determined and will be painful to face. But if there is pain in acknowledging failure, there is shame, horrendously lethal shame, in denying it.”

Our regular readers know it is an editorial article of faith here at highwayscribery that the (p)resident has no shame, just the votes and support of many selfish, unfeeling Americans.

His place in history, however, will be left up to another jury entirely.

No comments: