Saturday, September 27, 2008

Iraq and other matters...OR What a tangled web

Dear President Bush,

You have been in a painful slide lately I think. As one of your faithful, if somtimes confused, supporters, it has frankly been hard to watch. I want to believe you had an honorable heart in all this mess, but often I am unsure. I am here to engage the topic of Iraq today, and as I researched and thought about this subject, I just kept coming back to you.

This picture was taken this week, as you talked to us about the latest blow to hit your presidency, the impending collapse of the financial market. You frankly looked beaten. I heard the quacking of a lame duck calling the two Ganders to waddle their way to Washington to assist in the decision that would really affect their administration more than yours.

It made me think back to the days not so long ago when you were younger, determined, and riding a wave of public support. You had comforted us after the terrible day of 9/11, you had taken a posse and sent them to Afganistan to string up the outlaw who did it, and you were ready to show that you were not only a reactive guy, but proactive as well. There would be no second 9/11 on your watch. Hussein would be the next to go. I wonder if you regret the speech below now, especially the prophetic lines that those of us who were listening did not expect to be as true as they turned out to be.

There are now few that don't hate you for this decision. Did you know that the weapons of Mass Destruction would never quite show up? Was it really all about oil? Or was it about the human rights violations against millions in Iraq? I guess we will never know. Right or wrong, you have suffered. And maybe I am naive to still hope that your intentions were good. But even corruption has been corrupted now, with the evilest standing up and calling themselves the best, so how are we on "main street" to know.

So now, we have two men with plans for what to do next. I was struck by something McCain said in the debate this past week. Obama was talking about why this war was the wrong war at the wrong time. But now that is a mute point. We are here and it is now and there is no going back. So the question is what do we do now.
See minute #2 for the quote. Watch the whole video for McCain's side of the debate on Iraq. I wish it had both sides of the debate, but this is what I found.

The fact of the matter is, we cannot "lose" in Iraq. Remember how that went with Vietnam? But how do you define "winning" when you are fighting against guerilla warfare? When the enemy army has a global pool to draw from? And when the enemy does not value the lives of its own members? In fact, the enemy blends with the civilian population one day and blows them up the next. Lets just say it gets confusing.

So, to the point. What does John McCain recommend? On his site he says he "believes it is strategically and morally essential for the United States to support the Government of Iraq to become capable of governing itself and safeguarding its people. He strongly disagrees with those who advocate withdrawing American troops before that has occurred." OK, what else...

"The best way to secure long-term peace and security is to establish a stable, prosperous, and democratic state in Iraq that poses no threat to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists. When Iraqi forces can safeguard their own country, American troops can return home." A democratic state that poses no threat to its neighbors? I disagree with that. Its neighbors should be at risk of catching the same disease...democracy and freedom. Those terrorists take refuge with Iraq's neighbors...But Iraq should be able to safe guard themselves, I agree.
McCain calls for 1. Support of the successful counterinsurgency strategy (see BRD's discussion of the Patreaus doctrine). 2. Push for Political reconciliation and good government, 3. Get Iraq's economy back on its feet, 4. Call for International pressure on Syria and Iran, 5. Level with the American people about what is going on in Iraq

He closes his Iraq info with this: “I know the pain war causes. I understand the frustration caused by our mistakes in this war. And I regret sincerely the additional sacrifices imposed on the brave Americans who defend us. But I also know the toll a lost war takes on an army and on our country's security. By giving General Petraeus and the men and women he has the honor to command the time and support necessary to succeed in Iraq we have before us a hard road. But it is the right road. It is necessary and just. Those who disregard the unmistakable progress we have made in the last year and the terrible consequences that would ensue were we to abandon our responsibilities in Iraq have chosen another road. It may appear to be the easier course of action, but it is a much more reckless one, and it does them no credit even if it gives them an advantage in the next election.”

I fear that I still agree with your administration, Mr. Bush, and with John McCain. I think you both sort of agree, although all this politics has addled my brain a bit. I just know that simply promising to bring troops home does not a successful strategy make. We are where we are, and we must, slowly but surely, strengthen Iraq and prepare to leave. There will be risks, there are always risks, but we must allow this butterfly, which we removed from its cocoon a bit before it was ready, to spread and strengthen its wings. And then when it can fly, we must let it.

AND THEN>>> We must decide what we will do with evil in this world, both the evil that threatens us and the evil that does not. What about the Darfurs? What about the Irans? There are probably 10 more places we could go to war at for all the same reasons that you took us to war in Iraq. So what kind of possible consequences will we allow to drive us to that point again? It is something that American's must grapple with. We must also grapple with where in the world we will spend our money, especially now. 2 Billion to Georgia to support many billions to the world in general to cut poverty in half by 2015?

"The world has changed, I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the earth". America must change with it, and we must decide who we are going to be globally... "freedom bully", nuclear enforcer, savior, uncle money bags, trouble maker, scape goat...what?

But I digress and fall into so many other topics. One last thing I want to say though, is that I am glad for what you have done in Africa. I wish more people knew about this. With all the horrible things going on in Iraq, there have been so many good things in Africa. But no one wants to report the good things...the people living better, surviving longer with AIDS, prevention of the spread of AIDS, etc. Thank you for doing this.
So enjoy your last few months in the White House, and I truly hope you can enjoy retirement on the ranch. It will be here very soon.

Your friend and critic,
CaDh 8

p.s. Oh, yeah, And Bush, I did not get to talk about that unbalanced budget, but it is one of my major gripes with you. If America had had to feel this war due to spending cuts to make war funding possible, I think the war would have been handled very differently from the beginning. But maybe that is a topic for next time...


brd said...

Provocative post CaDh8. Thanks for the research. I was reminded by your butterfly analogy of Annie Dillard and the Polyphemous moth. And I think that this is how the "Bush Doctrine" breaks down.

Surely, you must remember her story if you have ever read An American Childhood, which, less gloriously stated, is my childhood. She describes a little class of Pennsylvania students watching a moth remove itself leg by leg from a cocoon in a small jar. Because the jar is too small for the moth to spread it's wings, they dry in a clump. When the class releases the moth, it cannot fly. She writes, "The moth set out walking. It could only heave the golden wrinkly clumps where its wings should have been; it could only crawl down the school driveway on its six frail legs. . . I knew that this particular moth, the big walking moth, could not travel more than a few more yards before a bird or a cat began to eat it, or a car ran over it."

I'm afraid that no matter when we leave Iraq, we will be leaving a democracy whose wings are clumped. Annie does continue, "Nevertheless, it was crawling with what seemed wonderful vigor, as if, I thought at the time, it was still excited from being born. I watched it go till the bell rang and I had to go in."

I'm afraid, that our choices in Iraq are few and paltry. We can do one of two things. We can turn, now, to our own affairs (which are not inconsequential) or we can watch the Polyphemous Iraq until the bell rings.


cadh 8 said...

I never read that book. I don't know why, but your description of her story made me cry this morning. I think I cry because when such a big hope dies it is a great tragedy. And I fear you may be right about Iraq, no matter how I hope you are wrong. No matter how beautiful democracy is, you can't make people fight for what they do not want. And it will take more blood, much more blood, before Democracy could really take hold. America itself is washed in the blood of Oh, so many-and not just in the Revolution, but the Civil War was one of our growing pains.
I am glad I do not have to be the one making these decisions. It is just too hard. But I think our blog discussion has been interesting, if painful at times.