I have avoided for some time a clear declaration of my position concerning the Iraq war. Partially this oversight was due to mere neglect. But even when I am able to master my lazier proclivities and actually post to my blog I try as best I can to steer clear of political issues.
My Independence Day posts have traditionally been exceptions to this rule. Maybe the fourth inspires in me a certain sense of civic devotion. Or maybe it's just coincidence. Either way, the time seems propitious for a brief critique on the current conflict.
I should begin with the absolute statement that I oppose, as a matter of principle both war as an abstract concept and war as reduced to practice. This opposition is moral and absolute; it does not waiver based on the justification, or yield to the consequences of inaction. War is wrong, nothing can make it right.
Unfortunately I can take little solace from this absolute pacifism. My intellect demands from my conscious a system of belief based on necessity, notwithstanding morality. Thus while I believe war is always wrong, I accept that there are instances where the application of violence is necessary, and perhaps even the better choice to inaction (especially where it opposes a greater evil). This necessity should not be seen to justify the original sin, or absolve those who fall under it's shadow. Rather, it is a recognition of the fact that reality often provides us with a range of options, all of which are bad.
From such a preamble, it should come as no surprise that the current war does not find favor with me. I have become increasingly troubled at the mounting evidence tending to show that we were misled into this conflict by a narror clique of fanatical jingonists. Although I am willing to give a president the benefit of the doubt when he claims we are in danger, and while mere error alone does not abrogate this presumption of honesty, I think it clear we deal now with a situation of more sinister proportions.
I have heard it said, on television and radio, or seen it written that why and how we went to war is now irrelevant. That we should focus on the task at hand, and not dwell on the past. I believe this is a shortsighted and unhealthy position, born largely from the desire to avoid culpability, along with fear of its consequences. We need and deserve a full accounting from the people who brought us here, which is sadly something we will not have for many years, if ever.
Despite my distaste for war, and my suspicion regarding its architects, I unfortunately differ from many of my more respected associates (and a good number of the American public) in opposing troop withdrawal. This position stems largely from the fact that I believe we, as a country, assumed a moral debt when we went in in the first place. Right wing pundits may glibly assert that conditions now are better than they were under Saddam (a "fact" unknown to me, but assumed to be true anyway for the sake of argument), but that is irrelevant. We have broken their country. It is up to us to repair it.
Far from withdrawing, I believe the best course of action would be a massive increase in military, administrative, and financial efforts to secure the mideast. There should be a draft, and a Marshall Plan, and everywhere the evidence of a total dedication to restoring security in Iraq and providing the region with the security it needs to decide its own destiny. I believe we owe the Iraqi people nothing less.
However, the impossibility of such a resolution is patently clear. If we are unwilling, then, to do the job and make up for our own mistakes, then I believe the best option is to withdraw as fast as possible, to save as many lives as possible, and to do our best to influence the outcome with purely diplomatic and economic assets.
The president is correct when he stresses the importance of Iraq. That it is a mess he made himself will not save us from the consequences of failure. I think those consequences, both for us and for the region are so troubling as to demand a national effort of the kind employed against Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. But if we are ultimately to fail, we should do so as fast and cheaply as possible.