Today the answer from the Administration (and their hard-right flakguard) is that we’re in Iraq to fight terrorism. Some professor of apology from the Hoover Institute was featured today on KCBS’ In Depth. He nailed the current muddle by saying that it doesn’t matter why we initially got into Iraq. We’re there now and have to stay and “win” because we’re fighting terrorism.
Or not. It strikes me that it’s more likely that we’re stupidly hardening a generation of American-hating terrorists (or, “freedom fighters”, if they eventually force the United States to leave Saigon-style and write this chapter of history).
More importantly, it does matter why we thought we were getting into Iraq. From my earliest family discussions about the goodness of America, I learned that our country fights only necessary wars. We pick our wars carefully, and engage in them when there is no acceptable alternative. Our success as a nation is wrapped up in this freedom and goodness-loving mythology. We fight harder and endure more because we are certain of our cause. If we lose this moral edge, we will lose much.
So, let’s review why we [were told] we went into Iraq. First, wasn’t it to stop the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction? Or, was it to stop nuclear proliferation? Then it was to stop the abuse of Iraqis by Saddam. Then it was regime change. Then bringing democracy to the Middle East…
If this is Tuesday, our rationale must be what?
Where is the Powell Doctrine that demands that use of American military force requires a clear objective and a way to leave the field of engagement? Instead, America’s failure to have a focus for our Iraq occupation leads to the charge that we are colonialists interested only in oil and power. While no rational person will yearn for a return of Saddam and his government of fear and torture, is it really reasonable for “freedom loving Iraqis” to support the United States which took power by force and refuses to say when, or under what circumstances, it will leave? Who are the Red Coats and who are the local revolutionary fighters?
Our reasons for going to war and how we’ve prosecuted the war and “peace”, are vital questions for United State’s own well being. They matter not only for our moral sense. They make a huge practical difference in how successful we will be in Iraq and how safe we will be within our borders for decades to come.
Senator Barbara Boxer sounded an appropriate patriotic alarm in her speech on Iraq to the Commonwealth Club on Wednesday. In person she was moderate, warm, funny, and on target. (She needs a media coach because on TV and radio she sounds strident and endlessly partisan. Her answers to questions are gooey sound-blobs which, like sticky caramel, never seem to end or to satisfy.)
In her address, Senator Boxer called for “…credibility, accountability, and responsibility to a war that has been lacking in all three.”
What a liberal, enemy-supporting, terrorist-loving commie! How dare Senator Boxer suggest that our President and his administration be credible, accountable, and responsible after 9/11 (when everything changed), during this Time of War?
Well, perhaps it’s time to unwrap the flag from red-white-and-blue-cocooned George Bush. Rather than seek and accept each day’s shifting rationale for fighting in Iraq, let’s follow Senator Boxer’s call for credibility, accountability, and responsibility.
My head is too dizzy from the spinning of the reasons for the war. I’m too simple to understand the ex post facto linkage of terrorism to toppling Saddam. Perhaps I am even returning to a second childhood where America goes to war only when there is a clear, compelling reason.
Whatever. Just please don’t tell me any more new reasons why we went to war in Iraq. Instead, tell me how we are going to come home and leave peace.