As many of you know, every once in awhile, my inner Frenchman demands that I turn the key to the Mighty Jesus' General Humvee of Eternal Glory over to him. Today is one of those times.
Over the last few weeks, I've become more and more disgusted over the way the "official left" is addressing the war. It's become obvious to me that no one with any influence within the Democratic establishment really is truly committed to ending it. Sure, they talk a good game, but the details of their actual plans tell a different story.
Waiting for the stability fairy
The conventional wisdom among many establishment Democrats is that we can't draw down too quickly. We'll have to keep some unknown number of troops in Iraq until the Stability Fairy waves her magic wand and the Iraqi people can live happily ever after. That's not a plan. It's a fantasy. Worse yet, it's not even really an alternative to the current policy; it's simply repackaging it.
They cite a number of very appealing justifications for continuing the occupation indefinitely. "Serious thinkers" on the left like Kurt Anderson are quick to tell us that we must commit commit to a "long-term" draw down in order to prevent genocide, Turkish aggression in Kurdistan, and the domination of the region by Iran--in short all the things we warned Anderson and his ilk about before the war when we were dismissed as unserious dirty fucking hippies.
Remember when America had credibility
It's a compelling argument. I supported our intervention in Kosovo to stop the Serbians from committing acts of genocide, and I'm disgusted with the last two administrations for doing nothing to stop the atrocities in Rwanda and Darfur. I firmly believe that we must intervene to prevent genocide when we can and that's the key.
We had a lot of credibility when we intervened in Kosovo. For the most part, the operation was seen for what it was: a humanitarian intervention rather than a grab for strategic advantage. Because of that, the world, including a reluctant Serbia and its Russian benefactor, was willing to actively help us seek a solution to the conflict. And, together, we did.
We don't have the same credibility it Iraq. We don't deserve it. There is no reason for the rest of the world to help us find a way to ending the factional fighting. We can't be trusted. Anything we do will be seen as an attempt to increase our domination of the region. Now that Tony Blair's gone, no one other than perhaps Uzbekistan's chief people boiler, Islom Karimov, is crazy enough to risk being infected by our neo-con transmitted diseases.
The Sunnis and Shia will not seek peace as long as we are there. The best we can do is redirect their fire toward us, or more accurately, toward the young men and young women we send there to die. That's not an acceptable solution for us unserious dirty fucking hippies.
We need to provide the rest of the world with an incentive to act. We can only do that if commit to withdrawing all of our troops by a date certain. That will get the Saudi's attention. They'll have a choice between involving themselves in a war against Shia Islam, seeking a long-term reconciliation between the parties, or backing a multi-national peacekeeping effort. Certainly, oil dependent nations in Europe and Asia will also have an incentive to step up. Iraq isn't Rwanda or Darfur. They can't afford to sit this one out.
Turkey and Iran
Turkish aggression in Kurdistan and an increased Iranian influence in the region are much more easily addressed. It's too late to prevent the latter. We gifted Iran with greater regional influence the moment we invaded. We're not going to put that genie back into the bottle soon. It will take decades of diplomatic efforts to make up for that mistake; longer, if we nuke them.
Turkey, on the other hand, is perhaps the only real diplomatic success we've had since we convinced Palau to join the Coalition of the Willing. The fact that, aside from a few small skirmishes, Turkey hasn't swallowed up a large portion of Kurdistan stands as a testament to the power of bribery as a diplomatic tool (I guess the same could be said of our success in bringing Palau on board). They'll continue to show restraint as long as the money continues to flow. They aren't afraid of a military confrontation. We are powerless to stop them if they decide to invade (what are we going to do shift troops from Anbar Province?).
Why we must leave
This war was a terrible mistake. It's destroyed thousands of American sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers. It's taken their lives, their health, and their minds. It's also prevented us from taking other actions to defend our national security. But worst of all, it's corrupted our national soul.
Before the war, we condemned the practice of torture. We considered it to be one of the worst possible violations of human rights imaginable. There was no debate about that. Torture was a thug's tool; it was despicable practice no civilized country could countenance. Now we celebrate it as a tough-minded, even patriotic act, and a Supreme Court justice, a man who holds the highest judicial office in the land, justifies its use by citing a television show, a fucking television show.
Before the war, we universally revered habeas corpus as one of our most important of our constitutional protections. Its absence served as prima facie evidence that a government was totalitarian in nature. Last fall, Congress traded that vital protection for a few swing votes.
They're revisiting the issue now. The argument, thanks to a few spineless Democrats from the "serious thinking" wing of the party, is not about restoring this important protection, rather, it's a choice between reaffirming the last fall's gutting or returning only a small portion of what was lost.
I could go on and on: domestic spying, taking wives and children of suspected insurgents hostage, the Salvador option--all things that would have once horrified us. Now we embrace them to demonstrate that we are "serious thinkers" who love our country so much, we are willing to destroy it to save it.
It's time to get out.