Thursday, August 04, 2005

One Million Reasons

Code Pink, the women's peace organization known for their creative approach to consciousness-raising and their ability to disrupt warmongers regardless of where they gather - and always with savoir faire, creativity and humor (their "pink slip" gimmick, handed out to those officials we'd all like to see fired, has been adopted by a number of other groups) - has a new action, and it's one that anyone interested can participate in and support. It's "One Million Reasons," your chance to voice the will of the majority of Americans - now more than six out of ten - who want to bring our troops home from Iraq now. Join with Americans like Lance Armstrong, who has recently stated that he'd like to see the money spent on the war in Iraq on cancer research - something that is far more likely to impact the average American than a terrorist attack.

I've been wrestling with this issue. I was against the Iraq war from the beginning. I felt that it was unjustified, based on lies, a diversion away from our real enemies. I was also convinced, from everything I'd read and came to understand about both Iraq and those in the Administration who were pushing for this war, that invading Iraq was likely to be handled badly, and if handled badly, it would be a disaster for both Iraq and America. I have to say now that I was right.

Still, at times I've subscribed to Colin Powell's so-called "Pottery Barn" principle - "You break it, you own it." Having smashed whatever tenuous bonds held Iraq together, don't we have the obligation to stay until we've fixed it?

At this point I feel that we owe the Iraqi people a karmic debt that we may never be able to repay. Yes, we should rebuild Iraq. We should keep our promises. But I've come to the conclusion that we will never be able to do so at gunpoint.

I think that the United States needs to come up with a clear timetable for withdrawal, and the sooner, the better. I fear the future. I think that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, if it is not engaged in one already, and that our country is responsible for it. But I don't think that the presence of American troops is sufficient bulwark to stop that whirlwind, and in fact, may only be increasing the severity of the conflict. I suggest we pull out our troops after a set period of time. Return to the policies of "no fly zones" that enabled the Kurds to set up a defacto democracy in the north and make it clear that genocidal massacres will meet with an armed response. But as for the daily violence that has engulfed Iraq, there is nothing we can do to stop it, except to leave and let the Iraqis sort out for themselves what kind of country they are to inhabit.

We will be living with the consequences of Bush's appalling policies for a very long time. There is no good outcome here. Only the possibility of less bad ones.

UPDATE: Crooks & Liars has an amazing Hardball interview (video and transcript) with the parents of one of the slain Ohio Marines. It's clear to me that they both have a much better grasp of the situation in Iraq than the decision-makers in the Bush Administration...

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