Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, October 04, 2004

Kronos Crunches the Numbers

Nick Kronos touches on something that bothered me about the debates. Basically he looks at an assertion by Kerry about the percentage of deaths allocated to Americans. Go read Nick for the data, and then come back here so I can explain why this bugs me.

1. When we speak of UN forces, as a practical matter we're basically referring to Americans. France technically has an army, I guess, in the same way that Canada technically has health care and North Korea technically has leadership - in every case, it's not something that you choose to rely on, given the choice. And this isn't just France-bashing. The fact is that most UN troops are Americans. So if we send UN forces into, I don't know, Blogistan, and lots of fighting breaks out, we can reasonably expect that most of the casualties, if distributed equally among the represented nations, will be Americans. And that's assuming that the casualties are distributed equally. If we put (for example) Poles in a less dangerous spot that we put Czechs, then we can expect more casualties among the Czechs.

Basically all I'm saying is that America is the de facto world police, and the de facto bulk of what we term "UN forces." When the UN went into Somalia, it was basically American forces with non-American generals. Remember all that Blackhawk Down stuff? Think it was a coincidence that those were Americans? Think again. So my question for Kerry would be, if we had recruited France and Germany to go into Iraq (contrary to their corrupt pecuniary interests), how would the numbers be any different?

2. Perhaps more importantly, there is a fundamentally horrible assumption underlying Kerry's conclusion. Consider the following scenarios. In the first, America invades Blogistan alone and loses one hundred troops. America has taken one hundred percent of the casualties. In John Kerry's world, this is a bad thing. In the second scenario, America and France team up and invade Blogistan. Sixty Americans are killed, and forty Frenchmen are killed. The same number of human beings are dead. In John Kerry's world, this is somehow better.

This is only better is American lives have more intrinsic value than French lives. I think that's a horrible assumption. As much as I like to make fun of the French (and let's be honesty - I really like to make fun of the French), I don't think their lives are any less precious than American lives. We are all human beings, regardless of nationality. Kerry's notion of sharing the burden in terms of casualites really ought to get the ABBers howling about jingoistic imperialism, "No French blood for American interests!" that sort of thing. But of course, that would require some kind of consistency, and consistency is not exactly a leftist mantra.

This same point is part of the reason I support the war in Iraq. The fact is that Iraqis are people, too, and I want them to be free. I think it is tragic when Iraqis die. And a cold, hard fact of war is that when we invade Iraq, some Iraqis will die (note, of course, that Iraqis were dying before we invaded, at the hands of Saddam Hussein). I hope and pray for the hearts of the Iraqis to be softened, that they will strive for peace and freedom rather than terror and violence. And with all of this in mind, I think vigorously oppose the suggestion that American lives are worth so much more than Iraqi lives that we should stay at home in peace and comfort while they are dying or living under one of the most brutal regimes since Nazi Germany. How is that not jingoistic? Since when are liberals (the bulk of those who oppose the war in Iraq) so concerned about saving American lives when others are being tortured and killed, and denied basic human freedoms? Can anyone explain this to me?