I’m trying to get away from writing about Iraq, and President Bush, and all that other stuff here all the time. Not because it doesn’t interest me, but because I’m not sure obsessing over it is really the most productive use of my time. At some point, I’m going to put up a page with all of the political resources that I keep a close eye on and leave it to you guys to read them, mainly because I feel like I’ve fallen into sort of a rut. That said, I read a story yesterday (in the Independent) that I literally prayed was not true, which is that US soldiers are destroying orchards in Iraq to punish people in a village who aren’t cooperating with our hunt for guerillas.
In this case, my new attempt at self discipline fails me. Patrick Nielsen-Hayden has an entry on the orchard destruction that contains the key snippet from the story and a number of useful outbound links, so I’ll just point you in his direction. Assuming this story is true, I am incredibly shocked and disturbed that we have adopted the worst tactic of the Israeli occupation. Collective punishment is an atrocity, and it only sows the seeds of hatred. The best you can hope for with collective punishment is to coerce the punished into being ruled out of fear — which is exactly how Saddam Hussein ran Iraq until six months ago.
Discussing this in the terms of the pros and cons of collective punishment doesn’t really do the issue justice though, because the deeper offense I feel is at the basic human level. If someone came to my house and cut down my trees, I would be motivated to violence. I’ve lived in the house three years. I don’t rely on those trees for my livelihood. I live in a wooded area where trees grow at the drop of a hat. I guess it would be more like someone came to my house, cut down my trees, and smashed my computer. Except that in this case the computer would be one that my father built for me a few decades ago, and that I could never rebuild in my lifetime, but that I could start rebuilding for a subsequent generation if I decided to bother. Maybe that’s what it would be like.