Thursday, July 19, 2007

Looking Forward.... Looking Back

A block from my office here in rural Mississippi is a wonderful little local restaurant where, as the old song goes; "everybody knows your name." Real home cooking and great conversation. It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I've been known to eat all three meals there.

There are a few of us who occasionally discuss politics. Frankly it's a lot like the blogosphere where folks from the left, the center and the right gather and discuss sports one day, movies the next and politics the next. One of our group is running for sheriff and that occupies a lot of our time.

But, from time to time, we get back to the discussion of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I've noticed one commonality at the restaurant, here in the blogosphere and on the U.S. Senate floor the other night. The folks who think we should stay in Iraq are looking forward in time. The folks who think we should leave are focused on today and Bush's sins in the past.

I don't mean to oversimplify and I certainly don't want to put words in any one's mouth. But as I listened over coffee, as I listened overnight to our Senators debate and as I read on-line the general argument for leaving is that Iraq is a mess (very true), that we are "losing American blood and treasure" on a daily basis (also very true) and that the Iraqi's are not pulling their share of the weight (also very true).

Those who think we need to stay in Iraq tend to look past the problems we face today and concentrate on the future. Their argument for staying is that, if we leave, Iraq will fall into the hands of al Qaeda or Islamic fundamentalists (true), thousands or tens of thousands will die and/or be tortured or displaced (extremely likely), the middle east will be destabilized (also possible, although less likely), our enemies will be emboldened (that's a guarantee) and terrorists will have an important and resources rich country from which to operate (that, of course, is a given).

When a conservative or a "stay the course" person is faced with the very real situation on the ground today, their answer is that it's the "price we must pay." The goal is worthy of our sacrifice.

When a liberal or a "bring the troops home" person is faced with the question of Iraq's future, they tend to look inward or backward.

"At least no more Americans will die."

"Our boys will be home safe."

"Are your children serving in Iraq?"

"It's Iraq's problem. Who cares what they do?"

"Bush made this mess. He should have never invaded a sovereign country."

"The Iraqi's are incapable of self government, let alone democracy."

"Bush lied to get us into war."

Now I have to agree that Bush should NEVER have invaded Iraq. And I agree that Bush has made this mess.

But the question now is how do we clean up Bush's mess? Unfortunately, Harry Reid and the Democrats leading the movement to exit Iraq are all looking backward. They admit they have made absolutely no plans, no contingencies for any of the scenarios predicted by those who believe we must stay. They haven't discussed exit strategies with the military. They haven't discussed exit strategies with he Iraqi government. And they haven't discussed exit strategies with any of our allies. Of course, constitutionally, that's not their job.

The current "bring the troops home now" crowd has no plan beyond an April 30th deadline. There is no strategy. There are no contingencies.

I'm ready and willing to join the "bring the troops home now" crowd as soon as they start looking forward and plan for the future of Iraq and the middle east.

Please take a few minutes and listen to Guy Raz's excellent report on NPR this morning: US exit from Iraq full of unknowns Don't just read the abbreviated copy. Listen to the complete report. It's only 5 or 6 minutes long.






Vigilante said...
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Vigilante said...

No, no, no.

I don't speak for Democrats or Liberals, as I consider myself a fighting Progressive. When I call for immediate impeachment and immediate withdrawal from Iraq (whichever comes first), I am looking forward, not backward. The moral imperative is facing my once great country is to (a) repudiate Bush-Cheney and (b) deny them their spoils in Iraq:

make them eat their illegal; and ruinous war before they are excused from the table.

If you want me to work with you and the Iraqi people and prolong this insidious and ill-begotten occupation, you have to first join with me and expel from American soil this political occupation of the American people by this imperial presidency.

Bush and Cheney are our own home grown, state-sanctioned terrorists. They have done more harm to America than Osama bin Laden. If we don't save America from them today, their Neo-Conservative thugs will be back in four to eight years with more of their toxic Straussian thinking. These radical apostates have to be torn up from American soil, from whench they have borough these past seven years and cast out into the nearest desert.

I am looking forward-looking Progressive. You are a retrogressive Weimar Republican.

Vigilante said...

Perhaps the last of the above was a bit harsh, but not by much. Phyllis Bennis asks Is the Right Really Rising Up Against the Iraq Occupation?

There are indications that the bill to "fully fund full withdrawal" of the troops, introduced by Progressive Caucus co-chairs Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, may be allowed to come to the floor for a vote.But even the strongest of the anti-war congresspeople will worry about marginalizing themselves if they maintain a principled stance. The mainstream leadership of both parties will likely move to consolidate a bipartisan deal that will sound like withdrawal, look like withdrawal, but will in fact be a recipe for continuing, permanent occupation. President Bush himself said on the 4th of July that "We all long for the day when there are far fewer American servicemen and women in Iraq." Following the September "status report" from General Petraeus on the state of the war in Iraq, the deal could gain White House acquiescence and happen very quickly. Those who stand against such a deal on principle, those who continue to demand that ALL U.S. troops and mercenaries be brought home, that the U.S. bases be closed, and that the U.S. abandon its efforts to control Iraqi oil, will be vulnerable to being isolated and attacked by party leaders eager for a bipartisan consensus. Only massive public pressure will enable them to stand firm and resist those pressures.

A long-term, if diminished, occupation rewards Bush and Neo-Cons, and leaves a lesson and legacy: crime - war crimes - pay. Preventive war works.

Do you want this legacy pinned by history on our generation?

This is not a rhetorical question.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

Good points. Good clarification of your position and your principles.

I do not think many others have thought this through as fully as you have.

Of course I still DO NOT believe we can or should leave Iraq simply because Bush caused this mess.

Let's not compound his error.

I want a well thought out, fully researched exit strategy under the direction of a man or woman occupying the office of President who wants the best scenario possible for the entire middle east region.

Vigilante said...

First things, first. To repeat:

If you want me to work with you and the Iraqi people and prolong this insidious and ill-begotten occupation, you have to first join with me and expel from American soil this political occupation of the American people by this imperial presidency.