Spitting on America, there’s one in every crowd
Yes, I know the sight of a man changing his mind is troubling to some. However, one of the definitions of sanity that I have always taken to heart is that sanity means one can be swayed by reasonable argument. By that definition sanity is a rare commodity indeed, but I digress. Anyhow, long time commenter Jack left a comment regarding yesterday’s post that made me think.
A lot of my arguments I go with the assumption that most people are in much closer agreement than they realize, after all, we are all brothers/sisters who are far more alike than we are different. In so many cases if people really sat down and tried to understand each other, they find that they are simply saying the same thing but using different words. So a lot of my life I have tried to understand how other people thought, and then translated it into words that made sense to me. Often both parties can gain insight from this, and even if they agree to disagree, they walk away with a better understanding of each other and a better chance that they can come to agreement on other differences. In that light, here are Jack’s comments (indented,) and my thoughts:
As you know, my position on the Iraq war has been one of ignorance.
Join the crowd, why exactly the USA went to war with Iraq will puzzle historians for decades, if not forever. There’s not any question that those who have expressed the most certainly about Iraq have been the most in error, the rest of us are still trying to muddle out what happened and why it’s gone so horribly wrong.
One of the few positions I would take, though, is that when we went in, the mission should have been to topple Hussein for what everyone thought he had (and what he pretended to have)–WMD’s, then get the hell out of Dodge. I don’t think that we should have stayed there, and when the military and media started feeding into catch phrases like “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, etc. it DID indeed leave me scratching my head wondering why we were going over there to “free” people who allowed themselves to live under fascism–and from what I understand by many pundits–WANT to live under fascism and were better off under it.
I’m in full agreement with the first part here, Bush’s last, best chance to get out of Iraq and claim it as a victory was when Saddam was captured. It was already plainly obvious at that point that the occupation was wildly unpopular and that it was likely to get worse for any number of reasons. If we had declared victory then, set a time table for pulling out, and started handing over Iraq to the Iraqis, there was a good chance we could have gotten out of this mess smelling like a rose. Why we chose to stay after that is the real head scratcher, I agree.
As to people who want to live under fascism, I disagree completely. People want to live under…their own leaders. Most people will support a local tyrant over a foreign occupier any day of the week. “Better the devil you know.” It’s simply human nature, and the failure of Americans (especially) to understand this has led to many foreign policy blunders in the last century.
I heartily disagree about Senator Reid, though. I don’t know about you, but I have young friends in Iraq–young friends who have months left there–young friends who have lived hell most Americans don’t understand–and to hear the majority leader in our nation tell them that they failed, that they lost (yes, they take it personally!) is a blow few can understand. Its Vietnam all over again as far as America is concerned. His political grandstanding was uncalled for–it should have been a conversation between him and the President, or his colleagues. Its all about politics for Senator Reid–he wants the American military to lose because its politically expedient for him and his party. Senator Reid couldn’t wait till the soldiers were home to spit on them, he went ahead and did it.
Well, at first I was going to disagree here and defend Senator Reid’s statement that “The war is lost.” I was especially incensed with the suggestion that a US Senator wants the war to be lost and might work toward that. Then my brain kicked in, all that pounding my forehead on the keyboard seems to have gotten a few brain cells working: If I can claim that Bush and company are deliberately prolonging a hopeless war (and American suffering) for purely political reasons, how can I possibly claim that the converse isn’t true? That there might not be some who deliberately sabotage the war in order to further their own political agenda?
I can’t. To claim that the Democratic leadership is pure in motive while the Republicans are purely about politics is to commit the same error I accuse those who have bought into Islamophobia of. “Republican=evil and Democrat=good” is just as silly and illogical as “Christian=good/peaceful and Islam=evil/violent.” So I will not defend Senator Reid, I’m not sure of his motives. And frankly Jack is right, the good Senator could have said the same thing without implying that our soldiers had “lost” the war. He could have said something along the lines of “Our soldiers have done an amazing job of trying to do the impossible, but we need to ask ourselves if we want to keep sacrificing them for a cause that appears misguided at this point.”
So yeah, the Democratic leadership is no more to be trusted as a group than the Republican leadership. And even a cursory review of American history shows us examples of Democratic presidents prolonging wars (and American deaths) for political benefit. I will have to watch myself more carefully and not automatically defend what a Democratic leader says. We can express ourselves without insulting those who disagree, it’s hard to do but I think of more of us tried we’d all get along better. It can’t hurt now, can it?
I would like to conclude however that most liberals have nothing against soldiers personally, I can only think of one or two of the hundreds I have known. There is a hardcore group of anarchists/extremists who do, but they are no more representative of liberals than Reverend Phelps is representative of Evangelicals.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Click on the image to go to a U-tube clip of some fellow heckling one of their demonstrations. I’m normally not a big fan of heckling, but if these folks feel they can intrude on family funerals to get their message across, they can’t complain if someone tries to rain on their parade.)