October 26th, 2004

Is it wrong to do the right thing for the wrong reason?

It's amazing what you can get at the market. Besides the yummy and delicious apple turnovers that I'm addicted to, you can also get 10  minutes of discourse that causes a shift in perception, in thinking, and helps you figure out the REAL meaning of what the hell is going on.

I don't know his name, but I have to say Thank You to Mr. Infantryman, who gave me the title dilemma to ponder. We met up after having a typical driving fiasco going into the Ralphs parking lot - I had to go around the block cause a truck was blocking La Brea, and he made a bone-headed left turn from Fountain, even though there are orange safety poles set up to stop that exact maneuver. I caused him to block traffic for a few as I let 2 pedestrians cross the driveway entrance, and when I headed upstairs to the rooftop parking lot, he also went up. My initial beef with him was his poor choice in causing a dangerous situation, and when he walked behind my truck, his trucker hat and hipster gate left me thinking not that much of him.

We descend on the ribbed rubber escalator thing of doom (can't say I've ever been impressed with those things), and upon reaching the bottom, he takes a few steps and stops, turns to me and remarks "Do you know any dying soldiers?" That caught me off guard, since I thought we'd spare on the bad driving we did to get into the Ralphs lot.

His question was with reference to my "Bush is lying. Soldiers are dying" sticker. He had gone to Iraq twice, he said, and knew guys who had died. We talked for a bit. He was a bit upset, feeling that I was expressing that our war in Iraq was the wrong one; when he asked me, I told him I did think it was a wrong war, for unjust reasons. He said the liberation of the Iraqi people was a good thing, but I asked him about weapons of mass destruction. He said his group HAD found some WMDs - African mortar rounds with mustard gas, I believe.  not exactly the nukes 45 minutes away that we were told about, right? Right he agreed, declaring that he was going to vote for Kerry next week. He talked about the houses where people had gotten money from Saddam to hide weapons. Theirs were the houses with bags of sugar, and salt, and rice. He said that the people outside of the Sunni Triangle were truly appreciative of the liberation that the American forces did. He threw out the '40 million Afghan women voted'  factoid.

He pointed out this little debated dilemma - is it wrong to do the right thing for the wrong reasons?
Are we - the United States of America, through our armed forces deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq - doing the right thing? He conceded that we went to Iraq for the wrong reasons, but once there, we had accomplished a good thing. I offered him that the sanctions actually did keep him crippled, not really a threat to the US. He pointed out that Saddam didn't let the international sanctions keep him from killing his own people. He had issues with the no-bid contracting that has annoyed the very people we are trying to help; he said that there were three types of vehicles on the roads of Iraq - US Military, Haliburton oil trucks, KBR's F-150s. New Texas, anyone?

Doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Would it make any difference if we were doing this for the 'right' reason? If Bush had said "we are invading Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator. got any problems with that?" would it make it better, make it a more just use of force?

For that probing question, I thank you, mr. infantry dude.

:+s+:
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