Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cindy Sheehan - Unanswered

For the past ten days, Cindy Sheehan has been camping outside of President Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas. Her son Casey died on April 4, 2004 while fighting in Iraq, and she is responding in her grief by wanting some accountability, and her search for accountability has led her all the way to the president. To President Bush she asks, "You said he died for a noble cause. What cause?" She wants to meet with him, and has even invited him to a prayer service at noon this Friday.

There is a wide diversity of opinion about Sheehan's protest, as is to be expected. (See Michelle Malkin or Gold Star Families for Peace as examples). Supporters of the war in general do not support her, and opposers of the war in general do support her - with every shade of gray in between. Here's what I think.

Someone, somewhere high up in the halls of our government needs to say something like, "We were wrong. The Iraqi regime had little to no connection with Al-Quaeda, and in particular no connection with the specific terrorists who attacked the United States in 2001. And we were also wrong when we said that the Iraqi regime had weapons that were capable of wreaking unimagined mass destruction in the region. We understand that these were both rationale given for going to war, and they turned out to be wrong. We are very sorry."

There would be so much healing if something like that would happen. Oh, not for everyone, I'm sure. There would still be some who continued to push for complete and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, which in my opinion would not be at all helpful. But many, many people are primarily hurt by the attitude of the Bush administration, which comes across as stubbornly defensive in most public appearances. I don't know exactly what Cindy Sheehan wants to hear from President Bush, but maybe some humble contrition would be welcomed. Maybe she wants him to quit saying her son was killed for a "noble cause" and start being honest about what exactly that cause was. One of the most difficult things we learn in kindergarten is how to say, "I am sorry." It is hard to do, but it makes everyone feel so much better when it is done.

I am thankful that Saddam Hussein is being held accountable for the atrocities he committed as dictator of Iraq. I am relieved that he is no longer in power. In his case, it seems that either violence (revolution, assasination, war) or his own death at a ripe old age would have worked to get rid of him. And the argument that Saddam at least provided a steady supply of basic needs for the people doesn't work with me, either. Peace is more than the absence of open conflict, and Iraq under Saddam was unquestionably not at peace.

And neither is it at peace today, going on three years and counting from the beginning of the U.S. invasion. And there is no end in sight. There is no mission accomplished. There is no peace.

Cindy Sheehan is the person at the tip of an enormous ice berg. She is articulating the feelings of more Americans than President Bush likes to consider. Many of us just want someone to say they are sorry and to be honest about it. Instead, we get smug grins and belligerent squints. Instead of honest responses to Cindy Sheehan's questions, we get, "This is America and she is entitled to her opinion." Yes, this is true - not open for debate. Now, put down that straw man and answer her questions!

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51.17)

Andy B.


Anonymous said...

I guess you didn't see the interview this past Sunday with John McCain who was there when George W. met w/ Ms. Sheehan the first time. Why should he meet with her again? (In my opinion, she is being exploited by persons against the war and/or Bush.) Do you meet with every single person who has a bone to pick with you? Even after you have already met them once and discussed it? And as for apologizing...if anyone in politics apologizes for anything, the other side would just beat them over the head with it. (damned if you do, damned if you don't) I agree the war in Iraq is not a shining example for America, or anyone else in the world. I believe world leaders have hard choices to make. The previous administrations had plenty of reasons to go after Iraq, al Quaeda, etc. They didn't do much. It may be obvious that Iraq had nothing to do with al Quaeda and George was wrong to use that as an excuse to invade but was dealing with Saddam in a "business as usual" fashion getting the world anywhere? With the new regime in Iran, imagine what the Middle East would look like now if Saddam was still in Iraq. Part of the problem is thinking you can deal reasonably with unreasonable people. You can't. Your choices are limited. What should we do then? If we don't take the fight to them, they will surely bring it to us. (9/11, Madrid, London) If not us, who? If not now, when? We can't become isolated. That doesn't work either. (North Korea, China) I don't like or agree with everything Bush does but you can't say he's not a man of action. We've had many, many years of simply reacting. We're in it now, apologies or no apologies. Time will tell if the decisions were bad and the efforts in vain. I pray every day for the best possible outcome. Dave Wood

DogBlogger said...

"If we don't take the fight to them, they will surely bring it to us. (9/11, Madrid, London)"

Dave, the big problem I see with our involvement in Iraq is that there were none of "them" in Iraq when the U.S. took the fight there. Afghanistan, yes; Iraq, no. Of course, they're in Iraq now and making both American and Iraqi lives miserable (and nonexistent) because the White House gave the wrong reasons for taking Saddam out of power. There were plenty of legitimate reason to go after Saddam... it's a shame none of them were put to use.

Chris said...

I cannot begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. My thoughts and prayers go out to Cindy Sheehan and all who have lost friends and loved ones in the war.

But let's not pretend Sheehan is a rational spokesperson for the anit-war movement. She's on record calling for the impeachment of the President. She says publicly that she wants to ask the President, "Why did you kill my son?" She calls Bush a "lying bastard" and an "evil maniac." No politician with a sound mind would meet with a such a detractor. Sheehan is reacting out of raw anger, and a healthy dialogue is simply not possible.

Seamhead said...

Anonymous says that you can't deal reasonably with unreasonable people. Who are the unreasonable people in this instance, the Iraqis? I'm sure you mean the insurgents, but they weren't even in Iraq when this war started.

And did the administration take into account how unpredictable the situation would be? Obviously not. In fact, War, for the reasons the administration pushed, seemed quite reasonable to Americans. Now we know that their reasons for war were quited different than the ones articulated.

In fact, there is no evidence that whoever anonymous is talking about is unreasonable. The reason Americans believe them unreasonable is that we fail to understand them. I know this invites the typical conservative squawk about "liberals want to 'understand' our enemy . . ." But it's true. You will never a win a war against an enemy you don't understand even with the most expensive military the world has ever seen.

We would be better served to understand these people. We would be better served to work tirelessly to change their perceptions of the United States. And in so doing, we would alter our perceptions of them.

Anonymous cannot see how isolated we have become because of this war. Anonymous cannot see that Bush's 'action' here is nothing more than misguided reaction.

Seamhead said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark said...

I think it is unfortunate that Ms. Sheehan has used her late son for her political purpose. I want to know what her son felt about serving his country in Iraq. I feel she diminishes the honor and sacrifice her son made for our country by using him to make a point. If she has a protest against the war great but do it on her own and not use her son as leverage.