Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Trying On The New Method of Speechmaking"

I would like to tell you about a little Town Hall type meeting we had up in Syracuse, New York last week with our candidates for Congress. We wanted to know what they intended to do about the situation in Iraq. It went pretty much as anyone would expect, the incumbents didn’t show up, and that includes you Chuck and Hilary. As always, Representative James T. Walsh (R) couldn’t be bothered. It’s only the 25th District Jimmie. But all the Democratic candidates did show up.

I was impressed with the caliber of the individuals that attended the meeting on what to do with Iraq. Impressed yet at the same time not surprised by many of the statements made by many of the speakers. There were simply repetitions of many opinions that I had heard throughout the Iraq fiasco.

The presuppositions of both sides were very present.

There were even a few people from the other side.

A Major Scott Taylor got up and said that we must stay in Iraq, because we

A: Thought Saddam had WMD's.

B: The infrastructure there is improving

C: Saddam was a bad man, who committed many atrocities. The presuppositions of both sides were very present.

The Progressives spoke about how we should leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Dr. John Burdick wanted an international solution to the problem.

Mr. Ken Howland wanted immediate pullout.

This reinforces my opinion that no solution for peace in Iraq from the Left or the Right will be a cakewalk. In general, my sympathies are for the Progressives' solutions to the war, but as to specifics, I have a few questions.

I agree with Dr. Burdick that we are the target in Iraq, and we do inevitably cause innocent lives to suffer and die. I also agree that civilians suffer the worst casualties, and even politically sympathetic factions want us to leave.

Dr. Burdick was right to mention that sectarian hatred makes creating an army and police force from both Shia and Sunni sects nearly impossible. I would even add that the experience of being expelled from their neighborhoods for belonging to a particular sect and being ghettoized for it, creates vast reservoirs of angry youth ready ripe for recruiting by violent groups. This will be exacerbated by the fact that our troops have had to depend on one faction to help them fight the other.

My problem deals with Burdick's solution to the problem.

He wants America to out of the friendly king installment business. Next we need international participation.

First of all Mr. Jaafari has already caved. America is already tarred and feathered as the installer and deposer of kings.

Secondly, International cooperation requires nothing less than having to gain the cooperation of French mothers, German fathers, Italian brothers and sisters to send their family members to a war in a place where few people like them.

We may expect that in 3 years time though we may have achieved the ability to enjoin other nations to form a new coalition, it may by then be too late for an international coalition. After 3 more years of Dubya's inept bungling, the civil war in country, will be so bad that no country will send any troops into this worsening problem.

Does Dr. Burdick understand that we'd be asking somebody's French kid, or German brother to lay their lives on the line. Germany and France are democracies, like we are. It may be impossible to get them back into a coalition.

A more realistic solution? The regional approach. An occupation by Arab or Moslem armies partnered with the U.S. and Britain for cohesion is far for realistic and preferable. And for good measure let the troops be from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, the U.A.E. and Algeria.

Now to Major Taylor:

So what if everyone thought there were WMDs. Not only was the Intel lousy, but it was cooked when the leadership knew it was lousy. And sir, I've got some terrible news for you. The most terrible thing that could happen to our boys has already happened. The guys were betrayed by the leadership. To be sent to war on a lie, and to be the victims of a basic miscalculation due to "war on the cheap" is nothing more than an abuse of public trust and a waste of lives.

Yes, as you say Saddam was a Stalinist monster. At Dujail and Halabja he murdered civilians. But are we attacking the Sudanese because of their atrocities? What about North Korea? Uzbekistan? Byelorussia? Lukashenko's a bastard you know. Let's go! We don't like someone's government? Attack them! And if the Chicoms don't like the Philippines' government, or Taiwan, they can attack it too! SAME RULE APPLIES!

Yes, Saddam blocked inspections, bad move. But let's look at it from what might've been Saddam's point of view. He sees how we handled Kim Jong Il with kid gloves. Now Kim admitted to having nukes. Now Saddam wants to have it both ways. He wants to protect his position, yet have perks from the West, so he acts like has WMDs, but doesn't admit to it. Sound credible? Anyway, Saddam in the end gave in after every bomb strike, and did so right before hostilities.

And what about Kosovo? Much is made about how Clinton went in there over the U.N.'s objection. But the U.N. had learned a bitter lesson in Bosnia, and wasn't about to repeat it in Kosovo. Clinton never went anywhere without N.A.T.O. He turned Kosovo into a N.A.T.O. operation. When he did so, the U.N. compromised and followed suit. Non-interventionism was out of style.

And what did Bush do? He went on a pre-emptive war with no coalition worth mentioning! He went with too few troops, and no exit plan!

And given that sectarian violence is on the rise, what makes the Major think that the army will be any more effective than it is now?

As for the media, whom the Major so dutifully derides as per the Republican talking points dictum, they didn't start the war, nor did they make the colossal mistakes (or miscalculations if you will) that set up the situation. Once again, the guys were betrayed. By the way sir, where are the WMDs?

Ken Howland was former military. A veteran of the Vietnam Era if not the war itself. He hates imperialism. I agree with him on many things. We installed the Shah in Iran. Then they had a revolution. When Iran & Iraq went to war we supported Iraq with arms. I also believe that if we have a preponderance of power and can't win, something is wrong.

However I have a problem with Mr. Howland's solution - "Get out now!" We can't simply do that. We've already had a long history of doing that, leaving without moral accountability for the consequences, and without taking responsibility for the geopolitical aftermath. In Vietnam we simply pulled out, and left the South Vietnamese to the Communists. We were responsible for the millions of Vietnamese boat people. In Somalia we obsessed over capturing Muhammad Eideed, and lost our nerve after the Black Hawk Down incident. We left. Isn't that the example that bin Laden took for American weakness? It wasn't long thereafter when he began the terror campaign that culminated in 3000 dead at 9/11. If we just pull up stakes and leave lraq, won't that thug with a nuclear suitcase be more likely to come?

And then there is the moral .imperative. We went in, caused death and destruction to untold thousands, bombed them into the Stone Age. Doesn't it follow that if we have a moral bone left in our bodies that we take responsibility and at least re-establish the security that we deprived the civilians of? I think it does. And forget all that moral relativism about whether or not they want democracy in the Middle East. We worked with Conrad Adenauer to rebuild Germany, we can work with Iraqis to rebuild Iraq. In Iran an entire generation is clamoring for democratic reform. And anyway, 10,000 Iranian kids can't be wrong.

Jonathan Tassini as represented by Daryl Marcy had a few good ideas.

The war is illegal. We need the $24 million that the war sucked out here at home. We have to end the jingoistic patriotism. We have to march, write, get mad, get organized.

The only problem I have with any of the candidates other than Dan Maffei is this lingering political simplism that amateur candidates seem to have.

One attitude shared by Tassini and Anyone who voted for it was wrong. I've a problem with that in that it doesn't presuppose the assumption that the representative's angry constituents may have pressured them into voting for the war.

I know l felt angry in 2001.

What if I told l that I thought it was my fault that Hilary Clinton was for the war? I watched 3000 people die on my TV. I wanted revenge. All these accusations were being made about Iraq, and the U.N. was sounding to me (at the time) like a broken record. There was nothing to reign in the anger that the Bush lie machine inspired in me. Like many others I called my Congressman and my Senators, and told them how I felt. Our leadership at the time was blindsided, caught in the headlights. Last week I stood up at the meeting and apologized for my enormous part in this grievous error. What if I we could swing politicians over by giving them permission to admit their mistake and turn against the war?

Paloma Capana was a little too utopian for me. She asked what a poet could do for America. A poet wouldn't last very long in the Capitol bear pit.

Dan Maffei at least sounds like someone who has a firm grasp on how to handle the situation. He cut through the bull by saying that we already agreed on why we were there. To end the war. We can't continue the course we are on for empty honor. And he agrees with me that we can't simply attack countries simply because we hate their ideology. Anyway he states, using Saddam as straw man for justifying the war is a non-sequitur. Saddam was no threat, now he is no threat.

All in all, I'd say that the symposium went pretty much as expected. At least we know who the challengers are.

Wikipedia - Progressivism

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