The Monster We Built

Kevin Sites in Lebanon:

I ask Abbas Kassab who he blames for the bombing and death in Qana, and the answer I receive is similar to what I have heard elsewhere on the streets of Lebanon:

“America,” he says. “Only America.”

“Why?”

“America gave the green light for Israel to do this. Israel can’t shoot one bullet without America’s permission. America is responsible. There are not resistance fighters here. Only kids playing. Even if there were, why would they kill civilians? Let them fight in Bint Jbail where the resistance is. Let Israel go to Bint Jbail and see what they can do.”

Meanwhile, five hours of digging has turned up no new bodies and both the Lebanese Army and the U.N. contingent know they’re running out of time. There’s only an hour of daylight left to dig.

Memo to the halfbright. When I read this stuff, I don’t think, “Oh, how right they are to blame America. I blame America, too.”

I do think this: “How predictable.” Because, of course they blame America. Of course they do. The same way we blame states and all occupants thereof (for all their canting about the poor oppressed Iraqi people, the Freepers turned on the “hadjis” pretty fast once the Iraqis were shown to be, in the Freepers’ eyes, insufficiently grateful for our benevolent bombing) for the actions of residents or natives of that state elsewhere, regardless of agreement or disagreement, or knowledge aforethought, or simple and unfortunate sharing of a last name or a racial characteristic. It’s not like we don’t know how this works, how collective guilt applies, is traced backward, from the bullet that killed a family member to the miners of the lead.

Throughout the president’s “war on terror,” I’ve said this: that it’s not that we wouldn’t enjoy using any number of draconian tactics against our enemies. That’s not the test, whether you think some form of wrath will be effective when applied to those you loathe and despise. The test is whether, in a year or two years or (counting, now, almost exactly five years) you’re comfortable seeing those tactics being used against you and yours, and being unable to protest with any sincere ignorance of how on earth and why do they hate us anyway?

We Americans, in Iraq, Afghanistan, perhaps soon in Iran, we do not differentiate between those who paid for the bombs and those who set the timers. We do not differentiate between those who exhorted hatred and violence and those who did their bidding. We do not differentiate between small children in a nation-state and the leader of that state who declares his enmity for something we value.

These are the rules we invented. I find it hard to believe we didn’t consider that others would play by them. We sit here and at the UN and in Washington and we talk about right and wrong, but I’m talking about inevitability. It doesn’t take a genius to see this is how it goes. This is how it’s always gone.

So how does the devil look, now that he’s turned round on us?

A.

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