Monday, December 19, 2005

Two Options?

I did watch your speech to the nation last night, Bush. I haven't heard much in the way of response, but I understand in a general way that you were praised for having reached a new level of candor regarding responsibility for the mistakes made both in the intelligence leading to the war, and in its conduct. Bravo, I guess.

But for myself there remained two important points of disagreement. On the first, everything you have to say presupposes the necessity of the war in the first place: on the terrorists/insurgents, you still seem to harbor the misguided notion that your invasion of Iraq was predicated on the imperative of 9/11, to protect this country from the threat of international terrorism. I could see your point if you were talking about Afghanistan. But you turned your attention from that pursuit to something quite different in Iraq, where no one believed--even those who were persuaded by your WMD alarmism--that Saddam was in cahoots with the religious fanatics and ideologues who form the core of terrorism. Except, it seems, your Cheney, who still blows occasional, foolish farts on that utterly discredited trumpet. And you, who made another half-hearted attempt at it last night. Won't wash, Bush. No one is buying that story any more. No, it was you who imported terrorism into Iraq. It was your efforts that opened this opportunity for them, that provided Bin Laden and his like with the best recruitment tool and training ground they could possibly have hoped for.

My second point is this: you keep asserting that there are only two options left, victory or defeat, as though this were some inarguable truth. I disagree with that view profoundly. It's that kind of black-and-white thinking that gets you into trouble with everything you touch. Victory and defeat are precisely the two least desirable options open to us. Defeat... well, Bush, you've lectured us about that option many times, and I do agree that simply to abandon the Iraqis to their fate after what we've done to their country is not an honorable course. We have created chaos there. We need to help clean up the mess.

But victory? To me, that implies that America has somehow won a war that was not about America in the first place. It isn't we who should emerge the victors from this disaster, it's the Iraqi people. It shouldn't have been our fight in the first place, and it shouldn't be ours now. Given that you have marched in and trashed the place, it has become our unfortunate responsibility to support their efforts and help create the kind of playing field where they can set up a new game according to their own rules. But your mistake is to keep busying yourself with setting the rules for them. For you, it's democracy or bust. For them, there appear to be political imperatives--those, particuarly, having to do with the role of religion in public life--which may prove to be incompatible with the ideal of democracy that we, in this country, purport to aspire to. (Though that, too, as I have said many times, has been imperiled by the attidues and practices of your administration.)

Bottom line: it's simplistic to keep repeating that same old mantra, victory or defeat. What's needed is neither of these options, but a middle ground, a negotiated settlement between the warring parties over there; or perhaps, more accurately, a provisional settlement that's open to continuing negotiation, since no single answer will ever resolve all the conflicting interests in the region. And it's disingenuous to keep smearing your critics with "defeatism", as though defeat were what they are proposing. As I hear it, they are talking about a careful, planned withdrawl of the American presence, a gradual shift of responsibility that takes into account the need for continuing security and reconstruction, but makes it clear that it's not about America or American interests, but rather about what the Iraqis may wish to build for themselves. Even, Bush, if that's not democracy.

But I'll be interest, this morning, to hear what others say. Have a good week, Bush. Though it doesn't bode well.

1 comment:

PK said...

For bin Ladin, when you have an enemy like Bush, you don't need friends :). He's handed bin Ladin everything on a silver platter. Pitt, this morning, had some good thoughts, and a bit of impeachment in them. Going through Truthout, Truthdig, and Capitol Hill Blue, I find my thoughts put to print. A friend told me the other day, the best we could do now is to get the hell out and start shipping materials over there to start to rebuild their country that the US has bombed to smithereens. That we are throwing money away by being there. Good point. I'm still for impeachment over here, narrow minded that I am. There is already a victory, if one chooses to call it that, Saddam is not in power. That should be all that is needed. That was what was promised by the first Bush and then he just cowered out of it. He didn't help them when they tried to overthrow, like he said he would. When you go into a country and bomb the livin' bejesus out of them, kill the people, destroy the buildings, roads and countryside, and call it democracy in action, would you want democracy? Then watch as the President, and all his minions, go ballistic in the greed, corruption and lie department, not to mention torture, that was your presidents gig before he got pulled out of the underground hole, would make me wonder what is different than what I had. As far as they are concerned we are no different. They want us out. Permanently! They will not have what Bush calls democracy. They will be theocratic, which is where we are headed if we don't get Bush out of office. His little gig on TV this morning was pretty sad. I normally don't listen anymore, the words never change. Today wasn't any different. But his poll numbers are going up without Rove writing for him, he can see that, so he's going to run with it. The more he admits to seems the higher the numbers go. He must be laughing his ass off. Especially since he wants to make his tax cuts permanent. Caste we will be if it happens.