Friday, October 13, 2006
Politics of Iraq and Terrorism
One of the political issues with the war and terrorism has been the spin that both sides jump to put onto anything that happens. A recent example is what Ted Turner said at some speech. What got spun out was an implication that he didn't know whose side he was on-- terrorists or the West.
If you get what he really said, not the spin, he was asked how he saw the Iraqi war and what was his attitude toward it. He said he felt it has been pressed so quickly with the statement-- you are with us or against us!
Unlike how the right immediately spun, he was not saying he wasn't sure if he was on the side of terrorists but that he wasn't sure if he had favored the war and had wanted time to consider it and yet no such time was granted.
His words were deliberately twisted to make him sound crazy by Fox news... I use the word news loosely. For some people the only news they get is Fox and the right wing talk radio people like Rush Limbaugh. Although if all you get at night is a quick spin from the day, with quotes taken out of context, you aren't in much better shape.
So how do we decide? Basically we have to read whole speeches, look at statistics, and realize they can be manipulated, and get many different opinions to get any concept of what might be done next. Is there a solution? To Bush there is only one, but are there other possibilities without being a traitor to this country as some are so quick to accuse?
Suppose we did make a mistake as many (excluding Bush and Cheney) increasingly believe or maybe it wasn't a mistake and our government deliberately misled us but whatever the case what can we do now? Do we have options?
Politically, it's likely true that if we leave, the Arab world will say we lost. They think we lost anyway. Staying in Iraq, through what increasingly looks like a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites (with al Quaida thrown into the mix to keep both stirred up), is not going to end the terrorism war elsewhere no matter what happens.
If we totally subdued that country, killed off all of those who don't want us there, got electricity restored, etc etc. we still would have Muslim terrorists around the world attacking us and any other western nation. Their vendetta against the western world is not going away because their goal is total victory. Can the United States or any other nation give people like bin Laden and his ilk that? There is no detente possible with them. You don't negotiate with killers and that is what they have become whatever their original motives.
To discuss what we do next in Iraq, we have to separate terrorism from that war as they were never connected in the beginning. The argument that we must fight them there to avoid fighting them here is not only stupid but cruel. The question instead should be are we helping the Iraqi people right now? Are we hurting them? No one can say for sure, but as many as one hundred thousand innocent civilians may have been killed and the numbers could be higher. Those citizens didn't sign up for this but were simply born in a place that has turned very violent. The next question is are we helping our own soldiers and our country by what we are doing there?
If the answer to these questions indicates we should get out, we should be big enough people to admit a mistake and move on that knowledge. We could still give military aid to the side we would rather see win in the Iraqi civil war... although that won't make us more friends with either side and those who think it would are ignoring history. It's like a stranger stepping between a battling husband and wife. He often ends up being attacked by both.
Do you correct a mistake by perpetuating it into eternity or by admitting it and stopping the losing behavior? Maybe if we did pull our troops out of Iraq, we could put more energy into the real battle which is against radical terrorism spiraling out of the Middle East and attacking the world. Some of that could be done (and for that matter is right now) through good police investigations, effective espionage, and the military brought in to fight pinpoint battles with hopefully minimal loss of civilians on either side.
We might also apply pressure on our supposed allies in the Arab world to see that their oil money, which is fueling the current wars, is re-channeled into better lives for the people who supply much of the fodder for suicide bombings. This is not just about education, as most of the 9/11 bombers were educated, but it's what kind of education. There have to be real jobs in countries where they have tremendous wealth but, as with Saudi Arabia, all the wealth channels into a few families leaving 40% of the Saudis unemployed. That is asking for something bad to arise in any nation.
So what can ordinary Americans do right now about this? My obvious suggestion is vote democrat this time even if you never have before. That way there is at least a chance for a reassessment.
Bush was quoted in the new Woodward book that even if only Laura and his dog supported him, he wouldn't let us leave Iraq. That was an interesting comment considering it means he wouldn't care what the military thought either. We know from what the generals have said that he didn't care earlier when they said they needed more troops on the ground, and it was denied for political reasons. The Bush-lites were evidently pretty sure Americans were all for this war if it didn't personally cost them anything and its debt was being pushed onto future generations.
Bush can't admit he is wrong because it would mean he sent a lot of people, on both sides, to their deaths for nothing (and worse for him that his father had been right). We Americans should not accept his solutions as ours. We have to be responsible and find out for ourselves what is right, and then have the courage to do it.
(The Absaroka Mountains in Montana are impressive. To imagine getting across them is intimidating as it's wilderness with grizzlies and cougar to add to the rugged terrain. But in doing anything difficult, it has to be one step at a time. You start at the trailhead and begin walking. I think our situation with the world and terrorism is that way. We have to begin somewhere, but we equally need to be sure we are not walking the wrong way.)