The Spirit of Sacrifice
November 4, 2003
As the War Between the States raged, the humorist
Artemus Ward announced, I have already given two cousins to the
war, and I stand ready to sacrifice my wifes brother.
I think of those words every time
I hear our leaders and pundits say that we must show our
resolve and our will in Iraq, despite the
growing number of American casualties. The neoconservatives in
particular stand ready to sacrifice as many goyim as it takes. Even if you
think this war isnt especially necessary, you have to admire such
When your country faces a threat
like Saddam Hussein, its your patriotic duty to grab a rifle and
hand it to some young man (preferably not your own son) without counting
the risks and costs. Even if you didnt fight in any of the last few
wars, you can compensate for it by sending others to fight now, as so
many of our hawks are doing. Then you can deride the cowardice and
challenge the patriotism of those who lack your spirit of sacrifice.
Lets keep a sense of
proportion. American casualties in Iraq are far lower than those in
Vietnam. Rush Limbaugh has pointed out that more Americans die in
traffic accidents than are dying in Iraq, but we dont get constant
media reports about those numbers. Why get excited about our losses in
America or at least the
Bush administration, which is the same thing needs more of that
kind of level-headed thinking. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, commenting
on the downing of the helicopter that killed 16 GIs, said, Its
clearly a tragic day for America. In a long, hard war, were going to
have tragic days. But theyre necessary. Theyre part of a war
thats difficult and complicated.
stoicism is admirable. And is the death of 16 soldiers even
tragic? Of course every death is regrettable. Every
mans death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind, et
cetera, but you can take that sort of thinking too far. People are dying all
the time, even young people. We cant mourn them all. We
cant freak out every time we hear about a few deaths in a country
of nearly 300 million people. Cant we spare a few in Iraq? A few
hundred, spread out over months, doesnt seem an unreasonable
sacrifice for the cause of freedom.
America will never
run, says President Bush. I should say not! After all, America has
just won a crushing victory, as the president told us six months ago. So
why is he even talking about running now?
As one hawkish pundit, imbued
with the spirit of sacrifice, points out, the president is saying something
that should go without saying. He shouldnt even be telling our
enemies that the thought of pulling out of Iraq has crossed his mind. It can
only encourage them.
But who are our enemies in Iraq?
They are variously described as Saddam loyalists,
radical Islam, or just terrorists, but nobody
really knows. They dont identify themselves. Saddam loyalists
dont seem the type to resort to suicide tactics. Radical Muslims
do, but they arent loyal to Saddam. And attacking military targets
Its hard to fight an enemy
when you dont even know who he is or why he is fighting you. It
makes your sacrifice seem rather pointless. But I suppose we can afford
it. Whoever the enemy may be, we must show him, or her, our resolve.
There is speculation that Saddam
Hussein is still alive and is directing the Iraqi resistance. Suppose the
worst case. America pulls out of Iraq and Saddam comes back to power,
crowing in triumph and resuming his tyrannical ways. After the
devastation of his regime, his family, his inner circle, and his military
power, could anyone rationally imagine that he would pose a threat to
America? Can even our hawks believe he would be able to whip out those
weapons of mass destruction he was accused of possessing
By all means, lets keep a
sense of proportion. But that also means not overestimating the enemy.
The wild exaggeration of the danger of Saddam Hussein has now exposed
America to new dangers.
We are so big, rich, and powerful
that we can probably afford this folly, in the sense that it wont
actually destroy us. But what purpose does it serve?