Monday, November 22, 2004

Bombing Mosques and Dodgeball

In a "Plugged In" segment written for the Arizona Republic, contributor and quasi-blogger Salvador Reza writes that someone has asked, "What would U.S. citizens do if their cathedrals, their synagogues, their churches were being bombed, attacked and destroyed?" His answer? "Independent of party affiliation they would rise up in arms the same way the average apolitical Sunni population is doing right now." He concludes, "It is time to take a deep breath, reassess the situation and get out."

No argument about the need for an "exit strategy" -- although it might be that we would be better served if we had a exit strategy for the 5,000 or so U.S. military personnel still on the ground in Bosnia. Remember Bosnia? The troops were deployed there in 1995, during the first Clinton Administration, and were only supposed to have been there for "a year or so." Here's what President Clinton said in his address to the nation about the U.S. intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina:
First, the mission will be precisely defined, with clear, realistic goals that can be achieved in a definite period of time. Our troops will make sure each side withdraws its forces behind the front lines, and keeps them there. They will maintain the cease-fire to prevent the war from accidentally starting again. These effects, in turn, will help create a secure environment so that the people in Bosnia can return to their homes, vote in free elections and begin to rebuild their lives. Our Joint Chiefs of Staff have concluded that this mission should -- and will -- take about one year.
Five years later, in December, 2000, the Pentagon announced a troop rotation schedule for the next five years -- in other words, until some time next year, in 2005. If it has been so difficult to withdraw from a relatively quiescent Bosnia, what does this mean for any attempts to withdraw from Iraq?

But I'm wandering from the point of the citation from Mr. Reza's quasi-blog. His question about what we would do if our churches and cathedrals were targets brings two thoughts to mind. The first is that, when we bombed Serbia (again, during the Clinton Administration), churches and cathedrals were bombed -- we dropped bombs on the Orthodox Christians of Serbia on Pascha (Easter Sunday, for those in the West). The second is that, if Christians use their places of worship as armories and fortresses, launching attacks from a church or a cathedral, and harboring the attackers upon their retreat to such places, we should not be surprised if these houses of prayer become targets. I don't think for a minute that there is any great plot to destroy mosques as such; but when a mosque is used for purposes of insurgency, it loses its status as a place of worship worthy of protection, and becomes a legitimate target.

I also note that a school in Albany, New York, is being sued because a seven-year old girl was injured during a game of dodgeball. As a result, the school has banned the game, as have schools in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. I'm not surprised, mind you. But it does make me wonder how we managed to survive our days in school, lo, these many years ago, without the army of lawyers and the agents of government there to make sure that no one got hurt; or, if they did, they received payments for the pain and suffering and trauma...