Monday, March 19, 2007

We're All Responsible for Failures in Iraq

So, it’s been four years. And things haven’t exactly gone well.

God knows there have been plenty of failures. The military was not remotely ready for post-invasion peace keeping. The Bush administration did an astoundingly poor job of preparing the American public for the long-term commitments of war. The pro-war forces created unforgivable divisiveness, going out of their way to demean and alienate those citizens who were not so gung-ho. The anti-war forces too-often confused their hatred of Bush with a desire to see the nation fail. The media – well, those failures are too numerous to document.

Yet, in moments like this, we are prone to place the vast majority of the blame on our elected leadership. So this war is, in many people’s minds, Bush’s great blunder. But such analysis is misleading. For all their power, Bush and our others leaders are just representatives of the people. They are us. Yes, blame should fall in heavy heaps around Bush and his administration, but if we fail in Iraq, we are all to blame – those who supported this war and those who didn’t.

Why? Because we forgot one of the most important lessons of American history: divided we fall. Our greatest failures as a nation have come when we let ourselves believe we are two peoples with irreconcilable differences. When we treat our fellow countrymen as enemies, what hope do we have of combating the real threats of the world?

I firmly believe that, regardless of the decisions made by our elected leaders, we’d be in a much better situation right now if, once we went to war, we committed ourselves as a nation to winning that war. That means allowing vociferous dissent and not labeling such disagreements as unpatriotic. That means supporting not just the wellbeing of the troops but actually supporting the mission we’ve sent the troops to do. That means unity of purpose even as we welcome differences on strategy.

If I sound like a scold, I don’t mean to be. I’m just tired of the blame being focused completely on the government or, conversely, the leftwing. We can’t shrug of our own culpability in our nation’s failures.

We stop living in a democracy the exact moment we stop believing in our own civic responsibilities.

We have not lost in Iraq yet. There is still a chance to secure some form of victory, even if that victory is not the robust democracy of neo-con dreams. Instead of trying to guarantee failure with an arbitrary timeline for withdrawal, can’t we at least attempt to save the Iraqis from the chaos we unleashed? Can’t those who think the war was a disaster of an idea and those who think the war was a noble and essential undertaking come together and agree that, whatever our other differences, we Americans don’t just start a fire and leave it to burn uncontrollably?

I probably hope for too much. But I have to hope for something.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Brian_in_MA said...

Well done, but one thing that infuriates me so:

How do you kick the bastards out when BOTH parties are chock full of bastards?

The Repubs have been spineless flans who won't stand up to the Democrats of late, and the Democratic presidential candidates have been warring with each other on who will surrender the fastest.

The Democrats are also not playing the "bipartisan" game they promised. I, of course, didn't believe a word they said, but even still saying "Bush is the divider!" when you cowtow to a bunch of extremists at DKos that burn flags in effigies, talk about murdering Bush and comparing him to Adolf Hitler, deface monuments, and in general act like traitorous pricks, it is pretty hard to buy their line after a while.

Lets face it, the President's numbers may be in the dirt, but Congress' are even lower. I repeat: How do you kick them out when they are ALL bastards?

2:35 PM  
Blogger richardhg said...

This is incredibly bad thinking. The President orders a pre-emptive strike into Iraq, and you want me to take responsibility for it? I want an impeachment proceeding, not because I want necessarily to see him punished, I just want to see all the evidence that both sides have to offer. I do not accept the concept of bad intelligence: I want to see it all, and to follow upon the likelihood that President Bush and his staff cherry-picked the evidence that would allow them to invade Iraq.

And if you can tell me how the lies about African uranium, and the outing of Valerie Plame were my fault in any way, I would love to see your reasoning. You are absolutely missing the point. I am not responsible for the mass-murder that has taken place in Iraq. The President of the United States is. You can argue whichever side you choose, but the fact is, in upsetting the status quo in Iraq, we have unleashed ongoing murder on an unprecedented scale. Not to even mention the "Shock and awe" mass bombing and killing of civilians on the initial invasion.

I will not allow you to dilute this responsibility and suggest we are all responsible. We put people in high office as a proxy. When there is misconduct, or the suggestion of misconduct, we need hearings to get to the facts. This is best known, for the President, as Impeachment. If you don't understand the meaning of the word, then look it up!

I am so tired of uneducated Americans who have been through college, yet have somehow completely missed the point. The idea of college was to teach you to thin, to examine things, and decide on the truth based on the facts.

America is now the lyingest place on earth. Lying has even changed its name. It is now called Truthiness!

11:40 PM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Richard,

Well, calling me an idiot is probably not the best way to engage me in a thoughtful conversation. But that's ok.

Feel free to throw out all the standard, anti-Bush talking points you want and pass it off as critical thinking. But I'm trying to move outside that kind of mimicry.

The point isn't that we are all responsible for the errors in judgement made by our government... we're responsible for the future outcomes. Impeaching the president does not resolve the war. Calling your fellow Americans liars does not save the people of Iraq. You can choose to either remove yourself from your citizenship and snipe at your political foes OR you can choose to consider how we can get out of this mess without leaving more carnage in our wake.

Too many people have washed their hands of this mess. They pretend that because they didn't support the invasion they have no responsibility for what happens now ... as if we an just get up and leave, let slaughter ensue and be morally absolved just because, hey, it's all Bush's fault ayway.

Snipe away. Insult me for feeling civic responsibility even for the actions of my nation that I disagree with. But at the end of it all, I'm trying to think through this mess and you're the one just repeating the talking points.

8:19 AM  

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