A Cautious Man
December 02, 2003
In Which the Cautious Man Uses a Bad Word, but Only in the Interest of Accurate Reporting
This morning I sat at my kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the paper (as I usually do most days). I read David Brooks' column in today's New York Times, in which he discusses how our troops in Iraq must be, not only fighters, but also builders of a better community in that country. Mr. Brooks discusses an incident in which an American soldier confronts an angry mob, which was "furiously accusing a man of butting in line and stealing gasoline." After investigating, the American officer "established that the man was merely a government inspector checking the quality of the fuel." Then, says Mr. Brooks, the American "took the chance to teach the mob a broader lesson":
The problem is that you people accuse each other without proof! That's the problem!
I don't know if Mr. Brooks does this on purpose just to annoy people, or if he really does miss the meaning of what he writes. But, when I read that, I shouted back at my newspaper, "How the fuck do you think we got into this mess in the first place!" (As I mentioned above, the use of the bad word is entirely due to the need to accurately report what I did this morning.) But really, how can someone miss the point that the "broader lesson" needs to be learned not just by Iraqis, but by us? Our government decided to charge into Iraq, without broad international support, and without any proof at all that it was either necessary or the best approach to the problem of Saddam Hussein. And, THAT'S THE PROBLEM.



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