a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Baghdad suicide bomber kills over 30 children

Posted by Thomas Nephew on July 14th, 2005

The German newsweekly SPIEGEL reports* that a Baghdad suicide bomber killed over 30 children on Wednesday. The children were trying to get candy from American soldiers combing the neighborhood of a suicide bomber.

Many children had run to the soldiers, who were distributing sweets, said the 25 year old [witness]. Suddenly a vehicle shot out of a side street, whose driver then blew himself up.

Distraught parents denounced the deed:

Hussein Radi mourned for his eleven year old son. “Those who did this are no resistance fighters, but criminals,” he said. “Why do they attack our children, civilians, Iraqis?” cried Hassan Mohammed, who lost his 13 year old son Alaa.

Even if the bomber didn’t see or expect the children — which seems unlikely — he was a villain.

But that’s not all there is to it. In his recent speech at Fort Bragg, President Bush essentially said that the “flypaper” theory – the notion that the American presence in Iraq lures bad guys to fight American troops there instead of attacking civilians in the West — is truly the underlying remaining reason for the U.S. presence in Iraq:

After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy.

Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The commander in charge of coalition operations in Iraq — who is also senior commander at this base — General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”
(emphases added)

No mentions of WMD any more, of course, and little mention of Saddam. I’ll set aside for now how nonsensical the “flypaper” idea is — as if Iraqi jihadists and insurgents aren’t perfectly capable of changing tactics and trying to wreak havoc in the U.S. someday.

But as yesterday’s horror shows, “flypaper” is not even something you ought to wish would work — because disasters like this are not just a foreseeable consequence, they are literally an intended consequence. After all, terrorists do terrible things — it’s their whole deal. So if one blows up thirty children, you can’t just say he’s evil if you brought the fight to the country of those thirty children. “Collateral damage” in a just, necessary war is one thing, if you try to minimize it. But to invite a battle on foreign soil for its own sake, as a kind of terrorist pest control measure, is something else and something worse.

And it’s something we are doing. To sum up Bush’s principal argument at Fort Bragg: we now occupy a country in order to lure ruthless killers to fight us ruthlessly among its people. Mission accomplished.

* This is just where I happened to first see the news earlier today.
UPDATE, 7/14: See also any of several posts
by Paperwight making the same basic point. As I say in the comments, he’s the person who made me think of ‘flypaper’ as a moral problem and not just as a logical non sequitur.

One Response to “Baghdad suicide bomber kills over 30 children”

  1. » Blog Archive » On "Apologists among us" Says:

    […] of the Iraq war: a war waged in large part on false premises going in, a war waged in large part on morally problematic premises (“flypaper”) now, and a war waged with methods that denied the human dignity and rights […]

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