How To Fix Iraq In One Day (BR)
I take the rare step of offering the Republicans useful advice
We in the U.S. love democracy. We hold it so sacred and dear that we're willing to kill any number of foreigners -- and stand by while still more kill each other -- in order to witness its proliferation. Now, obviously, the ongoing Iraq conflict is a political albatross for most of our elected officials, but primarily for the Republicans.
Complicating matters further is the creative spin that some in the Muslim world have rubbed upon the democratic spirit, having in the past two years elected avowed terrorists (Hamas, Hezbollah) and a genuinely insane theocrat with designs on nukes (Iran's Ahmadinejad) to positions of power. All this has scared the Bush administration off of its seventh -- or was it the ninth? -- rationale for invading and occupying Iraq, that being the democratization of the Middle East.
And that's really a shame. Because President Bush and company are missing an opportunity to advance the democratic agenda, one that would also allow it to cut and run from Iraq under cover of declaring victory, and probably preserve GOP control of the Senate and House in a week.
The answer to all of our troubles is a national referendum in Iraq. One question. To our Iraqi readers -- ha! -- I would ask that you read and consider carefully. The future of your country rests (or fidgets nervously) upon your answer.
1. Should the US military:
- a) maintain its current troop presence in Iraq;
- b) increase its troop presence;
- c) draw down its presence to a small force positioned near the Iraqi border to assist in emergency;
- d) gradually but completely withdraw based on a predetermined timetable, or
- e) withdraw immediately?
It's no secret that we here are against the war. I support the substance of the Kerry-Feingold Amendment in the Senate which calls for a gradual drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq over the course of 18 months, while maintaining a rapid-response team of special forces along the border to deal with flare-ups in violence and to cow Iran out of any thoughts of mischief.
My infinitely esteemed colleague Craig reminded me to include the above paragraph so as not to muddy the waters about where I sit. It's been reported in informal polls of Iraqis that an overwhelming majority want the American military out of their country immediately, and of course I'm just the type of tree-hugging lefty peacenik who'd like to oblige them.
The point is that no matter how I or the Iraqi street or the Democratic Party felt about the war, I would still support an Iraqi plebiscite regarding their sentiment toward our presence and abide by the result. Why? Because unlike George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Bill Frist, Joe Lieberman, Dennis Hastert, John Boehner, Jean Schmidt and all the rest, I believe in democracy. Not as a campaign slogan or as a cynical appeal to emotion, but as a transformative force, which, by its very nature, creates civil and prosperous societies, marginalizes radicalism and authoritarianism, and gives voice to all women and men that cannot be ignored by their government.
And if a poll of the Iraqis indicated a popular desire for the U.S. to remain in Iraq, I would be the first to drop my demand for a withdrawal. It is the right wing in the United States who are actually afraid of democracy, which is why our leaders have not asked and will not ask the occupied nation its opinion on this matter.
But if any of us believed a word of the highfalutin rhetoric we've heard and repeated ad nauseam these last long three and a half years, we'd demand it.