All right, I promise not to make Cetis have to say "dammit" again - well, we'll see...
In another thread that got way off topic, this statement was made:
If we want to take the analogy to absurd extremes, didn't we help throw the little girl in the river in the first place?
The little girl in the scenario is the Iraqi people, and we were discussing hypotheticals around whether our liberation of the Iraqis (the metaphoric jumping in to save the little girl who is drowning) was justified.
Ockham raises a point that I have heard many times before, and I would like to hear people's take on it. While the metaphor is imperfect (we didn't throw the girls in the river, but we helped pay for the boat), he is correct on a basic level - the US has supported some pretty bad people in the past, including Saddam and Osama once upon a time.
Usually this is raised as some sort of "ah-ha!", not unlike what you see above. One person talks about how good it is that we liberated Iraq, and another instantly reminds us that we once supported the guy who kept the Iraqis oppressed. Now, while this may seem a great rhetorical punchline, it actually makes for a horrible opening to an actual discussion. My follow up to this "ah-ha" is "so what?"
Is the implication here that because we contributed to a people's suffering, we shouldn't try to remedy it later? Because I would think that the opposite is true: if American policies diminished the freedom of the Iraqis, then we have a direct responsibility to help those people now.
Is this instead an "I told you so"? If so, it's a strange one. Most of the people who make this connection aren't old enough to have actually had an opinion when we were supporting Saddam or Osama, so "they" at least, didn't tell anyone. And there's no "I told you so" to be had in the name of the Democratic party (the party that tends to use this "ah-ha"), as it was a Democrat-controlled Congress which funded support for both Saddam and Osama in the 80's - and it was Jimmy Carter who started the policy of sending aid to the anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
"I told you so" also doesn't seem fitting, because Democrats (again, only bringing them up because they seem to be the one's who like to make this point in arguments) in general have no moral authority when it comes to supporting dictators - they just prefer left-wing dictatorships (a trend which continues today - just look at the swooning by the left for Castro).
So where does this "ah-ha" argument come from? It isn't a dig at Republicans, unless it's one made in ignorance of our history of supporting dictators - which I guess doesn't discount that being the source. But it seem that there is more going on here. The most obvious effect of continually bringing up past US support for bad people, is to try and lay the blame for their actions at America's feet. Is that what is going on here?
If so, it is misguided, and runs counter to reality. We didn't provide the Mujahadeen training in car bombs, box cutters, or weapons of mass destruction, which are the current and desired weapons of Al Qaeda. And our support to Saddam was limited to selling him some helicopters, providing military planning assistance against Iran, and buying his oil. Contrary to what is in people's heads, we didn't provide Saddam with converntional weapons or with chemical, biological or nuclear agents.
Also, our enablement of both of these enitities 15-20 years ago is unrelated to our conflicts with them today. Osama hates us for the same reason he hated the Soviets - "our" boots are on "his" sand. And Saddam didn't invade Kuwait because we were "friendly" during his war with Iran - his conflicts with Kuwait are even older than the ones with Iran.
But let's set aside reality for a second, and return to the hypothetical. How does our past support for someone who is now our enemy invalidate what we have to do to deal with them today? Or is this sentiment merely a way to complain and bash America?