Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Jesus Wept

Though “Filing Cabinet of the Damned” isn’t and won’t be a political blog, I have to mention current affairs for a second.

The war in Iraq has reached a point where the US military is actively entertaining the idea of training and employing death squads.

Death squads.

Death squads.

I’m not making this up. Check out for corroboration.

Apparently people choose to forget that doing so not only is hideously immoral, which most of these folks don’t care about anyway, but that establishing death squads removes the last shred of legitimacy from the operation. Then there’s the argument that it worked in El Salvador. That’s debatable, at the very least.

Yes, let’s establish a free and democratic Iraq that’s filled with guys we like and death squads we built. That’ll work.

Two quotes leap to mind.

“Usually, terrible things that are done with that excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.”
--- Russell Baker

“To know the truth is more difficult than most men suppose, and to act with ruthless determination in the belief that truth is the monopoly of their party is to invite disaster. Long calculations that certain evil in the present is worth inflicting for the sake of some doubtful benefit in the future are always to be viewed with suspicion, for, as Shakespeare says: ‘What’s to come is still unsure.’ Even the shrewdest men are apt to be wildly astray if they prophesy so much as ten years ahead.”
--- Bertrand Russell, “Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind”

On a personal level, the plan makes me throw up in my mouth a little every time I consider it. Considered on a political level, it reeks of major unanticipated blowback.

Employing death squads has the sexiness of the tough-guy solution (“This is war! You have to accept the brutal nature of war! You’re a naive pantywaist! Grr!”) and the advantage of seeming expedience. Not hard to see why a nervous Pentagon considers it.

Then again, it also demonstrates a complete lack of foresight and clutches to the idea that the insurrections in Iraq are led by a handful of individuals, and that if you kill them, the insurrection will end.

Sure. It worked so well for us in Vietnam, after all.

We’ve tried this before, folks.

Plus, those roving death squads we sponsored in El Salvador didn’t hurt our credibility in Latin America, did they? Oh right...they did. Damn.

The inability of the military leadership to understand the nature of the war makes my head spin. It’s a guerilla war of rebellion, you twits. Until you get that, you’re going to screw up.