02 February 2005

Thoughts on the Iraqi Election

    History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
      -Maya Angelou

    What experience and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles.
      -George Wilhelm Hegel

    Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
      -George Santayana
A 1967 news report of elections in Vietnam has been circling the Internet, and according to Snopes, it's real. The eerie similarity to recent news reports like this one is unmistakable.

I've been trying to decide what I think of the election. On one hand I have to be happy for Iraqis who voted, some for the first time in their lives. I heard a quote saying this was the first election in Mesopotamia where women voted. On the other hand, I am loathe to express any opinion that can be seen as a validation of the Iraq war. The whole thing was so wrong on so many levels and I refuse to sway from that opinion.

I've been trying to come up with an analogy for the Iraq war that explains how I feel about it. Here's what I came up with:
    A patient has a life threatening tumor on their liver. The doctor diagnoses the tumor as cancerous. The diagnosis is only based on a cursory review of test results. Against the recommendation of several colleagues, the doctor performs a liver transplant. Subsequent tests on the tumor reveal that it was benign. Many less radical treatments could have been prescribed.

    The patient's body rejects the new liver, forcing them to take drugs with numerous ugly side-effects. There is a real possibility that the patient will die of complications from the procedure. Yet there remains hope that the patient will recover and go on to lead a healthy life. Although not out of the woods, the patient has made some progress toward recovery.

    In the malpractice trial, the doctor vigorously defends the transplant, despite a finding that the tumor was benign. The doctor points out that the patient is showing signs of improvement, and that the tumor could have been fatal if left untreated.
Unfortunately, this is way too long for a campaign commercial....

I hope the election is a turning point. I hope that Iraq does not face a future like the one that unfolded after the elections in Vietnam. I hope the patient makes a full recovery and lives a healthy life. Nonetheless, I think the doctor is guilty of gross negligence.

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