Death of an American idealist

Opinion Journal’s James Taranto has a piece worth reading on the death of Marla Ruzicka, “left wing activist” and founder of CIVIC in a car bomb explosion in Iraq. He notes that

What is perhaps ironic, though not tragic, is that the cause Ruzicka embraced for antiwar reasons is probably helpful to the American war effort. Compensating the innocent victims of war helps to prove that America is in Afghanistan and Iraq as a liberator, not a conqueror.

I’d go further. The cause Ruzicka embraced for antiwar reasons is helpful to the American soul. America did enter Iraq as a liberator, not a conqueror. We don’t need to compensate the innocent to prove that – the fact that we have spent more to rebuild Iraq than it’s oil reserves are worth alone should disprove the idea that this was a war for oil or a war of conquest. But even a war of liberation, even when fought by perhaps the most conscientious invasion force in history, has unintended consequences and innocent victims. That we find those victims and then to the extent possible repair the damage is part and parcel of America’s highest ideals. It’s the reason we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq to a better condition than before either Gulf War. But America’s ideals demand that we do more than count the dollar cost, we have to count the human cost as well.

If I were to choose one quality as defining America, it is that our national soul aspires to the highest ideals – that’s what it means to be the Shining City on the Hill. We don’t always achieve our ideals and we don’t even agree on all of them, but the best and greatest Americans never stop striving for them.

The NPR report is worth listening to.

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