April 25, 2007

Iraq continues to be a state awash in both blood and chaos, months after the President’s so-called “surge” strategy to tighten up security there began. There are huge problems there, and I don’t, and won’t, claim to have all the answers. Once the Pandora’s box of sectarian violence and terror was opened by the U.S. invasion more than four years ago, as the old saying goes (and to mix metaphors judiciously), once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s impossible to put it back. Unfortunately, whether it be because of poor planning, a lack of resources, or (as in my view) an unwillingness to engage in all-out war with overwhelming force and firepower to achieve total victory – perhaps, a little of all of the above, the damage has been done, and there seems no good way out of the mess that has resulted.

While, to a certain extent, I feel sorry for the President, for the Iraq clusterf*ck will be the only thing his Presidency will be remembered for, guaranteeing him a legacy somewhere akin to the likes of Warren G. Harding and James Buchanan, I also blame him for not only getting us into this mess, but getting us into this mess without a clear exit strategy. I blame Donald Rumsfeld, too, and his legacy will also be measured by the mess that’s been created. But most of all, I feel badly for the families of those who are fighting over there. To me, the worst thing battlefield generals can do is fight with one hand tied behind their backs without a clear mission, and it’s the families that suffer the most because of it.

What, if I may be so bold to ask, is our mission in Iraq at this point, exactly? What has it evolved from and into – if anything? To me, that’s the biggest problem. When fools (and, arguably, traitors) like Harry Reid go defeatist on the troops solely for the purpose of political gain (after all, Reid knows there’s no way the Senate or Congress would ever approve the current war spending proposals before it beyond party line, so therefore his latest words are only for political theater) I say, a pox on their houses, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. The last thing the American people and our troops in the field need right now is bitchy political infighting absent of any real purpose other than to politically humiliate and wound the Commander-in-Chief.

If the Democrats really believe the only way out of the quagmire that is Iraq is to withdraw our troops – either immediately or on a regimented timetable, they should be bold and put a simple piece of legislation before Congress calling for exactly that. Don’t be cowardly and bury it in some kind of omnibus bill filled with spending and pork and various other crap, have some balls and introduce a simple bill before the Congress, setting a timetable with specific guidelines for disengagement. And turn it into a national referendum on the war. Not the President. Not Dick Cheney. Not Halliburton, or Saddam, or WMDs or lack of evidence thereof. Make it a simple question: do we stay, or do we get out?

And then let’s debate the damned thing out on national television, in prime time. Get the President to testify. And the generals. And the Secretaries of State and Defense. And the policy wonks and advisors. And Iraqis representing both sides. And let’s have it out, without politics, the only concern being what the situation is, what it will be if we leave, what it will be if we stay. And then, when the time comes, let every member of Congress vote his conscience. There’ll be nothing for them to hide from, and neither should they; after all, both they and their constituents would have heard the same evidence. Just a vote of conscience by every member of Congress. And then make a decision. Make it the ultimate decision – the act of a strong and resilient democracy in action. The troops on the field deserve as much, as do the people of Iraq.

And then, whatever the majority, let’s make the decision and live by it. Those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom and future of Iraq deserve to have their stories told alongside the living. And the only way that can be accomplished is to have a genuine dialogue about the war – what it’s all about, what we’re all about as a nation. And, for God’s sake, let’s keep the petty politics out of it – let history judge those who got us to this place in time, but let’s not do it now while our men and women are fighting and dying thousands of miles away.

I don’t know what to do about Iraq. I’ll bet most people – on both sides of the political aisle – feel the same way. But what I do know is that what is missing most amidst the political follies of Cindy Sheehan, John Murtha, Harry Reid, and the President’s civilian and military advisors is an honest and open debate about the war. As a nation, we are hopelessly paralyzed and divided; meanwhile there are plenty of other things being allowed to let slide both domestically and internationally, and it’s all because of Iraq. It’s time to end the stalemate and for our elected leaders to show courage and fortitude at a crucial time in our nation’s history.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the President or either party having the political courage to take on such a formidable undertaking – after all, there’s a high-stakes Presidential election next year. But, by avoiding the issue out of a desire to maintain a hostile Beltway climate of “politics as usual”, it is our country, and our brave military men and women putting their lives on the line, who suffer as a result.

And both we and they deserve better.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:10 | Comments (0)
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