Very good CK, I will heartily accept that we should be cognizant of what your "average" Iraqis and Afghans wish. Once we get past those fellers and get into the bin Laden's of the world, I support resistance, arrest and drone attacks (and my favorite - capture of bin Laden alive so he can be humiliated in front of the world for not blowing himself up as a martyr).
"People acting “in the name” of Western Civilization have repeatedly put large sections of Baghdad under heavy bombardment, and caused countless (literally countless) military and civilian casualties. If it’s not reasonable for someone in Iraq to be upset about the new U.S. Vatican, how is it reasonable for us to be upset about said 15-story pipsqueak of a structure?"
If you assume the average number of those killed annually by Saddam, the number of presumed (according to sites that try to accurately count that number) killed since we invaded in Iraq has been quite a significant number below that. And that doesn't include the countless number of Iraqis that surely would have perished at the hands of Uday & Qusay (and whoever else afterwards). So, the overall numbers of dead people compared with not so dead people are quite favorable in terms of what we've done there. Now, that being said, this does very little for the person who lost his family thanks to a misfired American J-Dam. It also does little for those who don't tend to look at the overall long term national picture - which may be a majority of humans.
I'm not sure about similar statistics for Afghanistan, but my guess is that the Taliban is responsible for more Afghan deaths than the US.
I've made this point before a couple of times at Contentions back in the glory days when they permitted comments to the masses. I'm not refuting what you've said - I'm just re-making a point that I felt got WAY too little attention, especially during the dog days of the Iraq War.
BTW, The new "US Vatican" might be seen as an intrusive by some, but I hope it's mostly seen as a symbol of the US freeing the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant and giving them the capacity to choose for themselves the type of govt they wish to have (as I feel it should be viewed).
"I find the above statement comically myopic (or would the right phrases be “willfully blind“?). In terms of victor’s “icons,” just ask yourself, for example, how an Islamist views the zillion dollar U.S. monster-embassy in Baghdad."
CK, I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "Islamist" here. My definition of an Islamist is one of those fellas who wants chop off my head for simply being an infidel American (you may have a more benign definition of the term though). I assume your definition is the same as mine though. That being said, I think you're a little off-center with the above statement/question. I don't think we should care what an Islamist thinks of our Baghdad embassy or any other "icon" we erect. It's kind of along the same lines as having our troops in Saudi. Bin Laden claimed that this was some horrific offense and was justification for war vs America. Well, we were there with the blessing of the Saudi govt. We didn't just gratuitously show up to be infidel invaders. Should we have left because bin Laden told us to? Why should we care one iota what a bin Laden thinks? We wouldn't pay any heed to some KKK buffoon who wants to rid America of the Jews and Papists and blacks. Once we start prostrating ourselves to the desires of the Islamists (rather, continue to do so ever more explicitly), we put ourselves on a path towards sharia - sharia being in direct contradiction with the most cherished values that a liberal democracy like America holds dear. We allow the narrative to be on the Islamists' terms.
If I had my preferences, the 13 story mosque would be built elsewhere - somewhere that's more than a two football field walk from where the towers fell (maybe a couple of miles?). I too might be pretty unhappy if a mosque was 2-3 blocks away from where my hypothetical family member was killed in the name of Islam. That said, if it's private property and a mosque is built going through the normal procedures that dictate how such private structures are built, then so be it. But once I've heard that someone in that mosque is preaching that Americans and non-Muslims must be killed, I'm going to want the wire taps in there 10 minutes later.