Suffice it to say, the average Iraqi citizen has had a crappy deal from Bush's Excellent Adventure (and that's a macabre understatement). Courtney Martin, who unintentionally demonstrates the uselessness of 'progressives' with a piece on the potential withdrawal from Iraq. It starts off well:
Iraqi citizens shouldn't be the only ones infuriated by our military's half-assed effort to rebuild a nation that we so righteously destroyed not so long ago. Americans should also be outraged. We should be fuming. This war was fought in our names, and now shoddy infrastructure and broken promises will be our legacy.
So far, so good. But then (italics mine):
We should be calling our political representatives and demanding that the U.S. military finish what it started in Iraq and implement a long-term plan for incorporating nation-building practices effectively and ethically....
We can argue the morality of wars, but as long as we keep participating in them, we must be committed to leaving them with dignity and integrity.
We? We are not participating them--there's no draft. We are telling others to die for us. I googled Courtney Martin, and, as best as I can tell, she's around thirty years old. According to her website, she likes "walking in Prospect Park." Well, if she's so damn eager to stay in Iraq, I suggest she walk to any one of a number of recruiting stations nearby and sign up.
It's very simple: you don't ask someone else to fight, kill, and die when you're not willing to do the same. Issuing stern declarations from Brooklyn coffee shops is as every bit as reprehensible as issuing them from Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse. Ultimately, the reason I opposed the Iraq War was that I didn't think it was worth my life--and thus, I didn't think it was worth someone else's life either. And unlike some progressive useful idiots, I was under no illusions that an occupation could ever be done 'right.'
Then comes something I have heard from some 'progressives' too:
The U.S. is slipping out of Iraq, base by base, soldier by soldier, not with a bang but with a whimper of unfulfilled promises and blatant denials. Sure it would be nice to just come home, as so many on the left have argued. No one wants our troops in Iraq any longer than is necessary. But what's even worse than prolonging their presence is undermining their work thus far by asking them to leave a job shoddily and incompletely done. Our troops' integrity -- and that of the country -- is at stake.
Basically, this means someone else's son, husband, brother, will have to die so that you can feel good about yourself--for our sins, if you will. Well, guess what? You shouldn't feel good. Ever. This was a catastrophic mistake--and entirely avoidable. Asking more people to die to salve your conscience only increases the cost of the butcher's bill. Because what do you say to the last man to die for a mistake? Phrases like 'integrity of the country' hold very little meaning in that crucible. Because this is what it means to place "integrity" over human life--this is "what's even worse than prolonging their presence":
Bring them home. Bring them home now.
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If anything I think you've sugar-coated the extent to which our "leadership", military and civilian, fucked up in Iraq. So much for the "best and the brightest". I've had five of my former students go there - one killed, two of the remaining four are still there. I hope each day for their safety.
I really fear for things in Afghanistan. My wife and I both have great-nephews there or heading there: Marines and infantry (and the son of a family friend is there as a Ranger). We're not alone in that regard, but knowing others have family members and close friends there doesn't make it easier. And what's the latest best news from there? That we've just convinced the "government" to allow us to give arms to villagers so that they can help protect themselves: no real guarantee that said arms won't scurry right over to the enemy, whoever that might be.
*we* are not risking our lives. But *we* are killing people.
We share the moral responsibility for what our troops do, and too many people don't feel that. I suspect the 'we' in question was a ham-handed attempt to remedy that.
You are correct, however, that we do not share the risks or the hardships in any comparable way. Which ought to be a reminder that we are demanding unreasonable sacrifices from the troops. Whether an unreasonable sacrifice is pointless or incrementally useful is kind of moot.
Maybe if our president has a "secret plan" for "peace with honor" we can get out towards the end of his second term...
I think the best way America can pursue integrity at this point is not to lie in the history books.
There is another problem with this: how could this fit in with our accords with the present Iraqi government? We would have to essentially take over the government to install what she might think is a "proper functioning government" with all the rights and imperial American goodies that she thinks an proper Iraqi government should permit. Time travel back 7 years and we might have a very very slim chance of that happening. It was fucked up from the beginning.
And if we leave now? And another 20... or 10... or 2 mother's sons or daughters die in Iraq for each American life we save? And if those sisters and brothers of the dead find their new life's goal in avengement, among the Sunni/Shia/Westerner/Iranian? We all bear a responsibility now for each death inflicted in our name and as a result of our actions.
Because this is exactly what this is: asking someone to be the last man to die for a mistake. We were stupid. We prosecuted a war we did not understand, and were not willing to sacrifice for. But the fact is, you can be the last man to die for a mistake now... or you can let the 10,000th person down the line die for that same mistake.
It's unfair that I ask this sacrifice of anyone else when my own ass is not on the line. It's unfair when I ask that of a police officer or a firefighter... Because when they 'come home', other people will die. That does not mean that I can't have an opinion on when firefighters and police officers have to do their job. Maybe substandard housing was built, in my name, due to zoning laws or corrupt politicians... That doesn't mean I can't expect the firefighter to risk his/her life to save the people living there. That doesn't mean I can't expect a police officer to try and take down a murdering thug, even if the drug laws enacted in my name were entirely responsible for the thug having guns and killing. The firefighter and the police officer volunteered for their job. And their job, in the end, is to save innocent lives, even if they stand the risk of dying.
The fact that I am not a police officer or a firefighter does not mean I can't have an opinion on how they do their jobs beyond 'Go back to the station.'
"The U.S. is slipping out of Iraq, base by base, soldier by soldier, not with a bang but with a whimper of unfulfilled promises and blatant denials. Sure it would be nice to just come home, as so many on the left have argued. No one wants our troops in Iraq any longer than is necessary. But what's even worse than prolonging their presence is undermining their work thus far by asking them to leave a job shoddily and incompletely done. Our troops' integrity -- and that of the country -- is at stake."
Why don't they let the soldier go home, if they still feeling bad about it, they should go there themselve
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