March 28, 2007
Psychologists for WarBy Tim Haering
Iraq is like an abused woman in therapy. A psychologist friend explained it to me. "She has repeatedly taken up with significant others that abuse her, and at many levels she doesn't trust ‘nice guys' or find them particularly attractive."
This, my psychologist friend explained, is why America is having such a rough stretch helping Iraq secure Democracy and freedom.
"Right now, we are being pretty ‘nice' about how we're fighting this war," he asserted, "and the Iraqis don't feel much respect or trust or attraction for us. And the Iraqis are a pretty abused people."
He invoked post-glasnost Russia.
"They got rid of the Soviets, but then let the mafia move in to run things as the new oligarchs, and now Putin is bringing the ex-KGB in for the long haul - a series of abusive groups lording over an abused people."
Seduced by the analogy, I took small bites to listen better. Around us at Quiznos, I felt others eavesdropping.
"One alternative," my behaviorist buddy explained, "would be to not be so ‘nice.' In WWII, we killed 3.5 million German soldiers and 700,000 to 2 million civilians, depending on the data source. For Japan, the civilian casualties were much lower since all we did was nuke two of their cities, and fire bomb several more, not actually invade the mainland. We killed 1.75 - 2 million Japanese soldiers and under a million civilians.
"So, in Germany we killed one civilian for every two to five soldiers we killed. Furthermore, we killed between 5 to 7% of their entire population of 78 million and around 3% of Japan's population. So, we would need to kill 800,000 to 1.8 million Iraqis to have comparable casualties."
Based on the WWII model, he suggested, "To definitively subdue a group of 25 million people, one should go out and kill 1 million or so of them, one fifth to one third of them civilians -- which we could pretty easily do any time we wanted to. But, because we believe that to be immoral, and I agree that it is, we are not doing that. So, it's probably going to take a lot longer to subdue these abusers. And they may end up killing that many of themselves before all this is over."
Then my doctor friend returned to his ‘abused woman' analogy.
"The therapeutic response is certainly not to abuse them [Iraq]. It's to continue to support them over the long haul as they continue to abuse themselves and let themselves be abused by others and, if they stick with the therapy for years and the therapist is helpful, and probably also a fair measure of luck gets thrown in, they can change. It's hard for them to change and doesn't work all the time. But the therapist needs to show that he is ‘tough enough' to stick with the process until she gets tired enough of getting beat up."
He added a relational dimension.
"'Nice guys' tend not to put up with women who abuse themselves and run out to sleep with other men who beat them up. However, those that stay with abused women long enough can help them out -- think of Bill Murray in The Razor's Edge.
"I'm not sure if we can stay with the self-abusing Iraqi people long enough for their therapy to be complete, but hopefully we can at least kill a few thousand more abusers before we have to leave because of Speaker Pelosi and her minions.
"Incidentally, the abused woman in Razor's Edge, Sophie, was murdered before her transition was complete -- prompted into it by a woman who reminds me quite a bit of Nancy Pelosi - someone who's never done anything real in her life, but enjoys a position of privilege and power and uses it to fulfill her own fantasies about how the world should be."
Yes, my psychologist friend leans Republican, and he ended his passionate digression into politics by quoting Speaker Pelosi on NPR a while back as saying that Iraq is the ‘greatest ethical challenge of our time.'
"To which I said back to the radio, ‘Ethical challenge? I thought it was a bloody war where you bloody kill people before they bloody kill you!'"
As we prepared to leave one of our more interesting lunches, I could hear people returning to their sandwiches. Based on all the bended ears, I urged him to share his poignant analogy. He declined, citing fear of professional retribution. He didn't want to be the lonely only member of "Psychologists For War."
But he's right, we cannot summarily pull out of Iraq, abandon our duty as therapist. Unless you think, like Democrats, that we are simply Iraq's ‘nice' new boyfriend.