Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bring Them Home

I want to bring a previous comment thread to the forefront here, so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Responding to my remarks about the Iraq War, Larry B. asked, and was seconded by Joseph, “GW may have made a serious mistake entering war, but how moral is it to make two mistakes?” His question echoes the classic parental admonition, “Two wrongs don’t make a right!”

In response, I wrote

Here's an analogy, Larry B and Joseph (read this in a letter to the editor today): I want my friend to stop gambling, because he is losing money. He says, but if I keep playing, I might win. My desire for him to stop gambling is not because I don't want him to perhaps win eventually, but because I want him to stop losing his money right now.


I think this metaphor is very helpful in explaining my position on Iraq. I want this war over, not because it is my desire that the U.S. “lose” and the region fall into chaos, but rather because the war cannot be “won” in any reasonable sense of the word, and the region is in chaos right now, anyway. Using the analogy, gambling will continue after my friend leaves the boat!

My larger point was (and still is) to decry the culture of deception in our government that says it is okay to change the definition of success to match what is happening now, whatever that might be. As if, when I say to my friend, “You are going to go broke if you keep gambling like this,” my friend responds, “But I am losing fewer quarters than ever before, which means things are getting better!” which is true, but the reality is that he is losing more and more dollars all the time.

It’s like Kansas Bob commented, we are “powerless” in Iraq, and it is time to bring them home.

9 comments:

Larry B said...

I understand how the analogy explains your view.

I do think it's an inadequate analogy to encompass what I was getting at. Stopping one's friend from gambling can prevent harm to your friend however his stopping does not increase the risk to anyone else.

I don't think the increased risk to others associated with immediate withdrawal can be ignored in this situation.

Secondly, your main argument being that the government is being deceptive by changing the definition of success to match the situation. Could you elucidate where the definition of failure was determined and how that has not changed also to suit the present circumstances?

Certainly there is no denying that there is an uptick in violence, some against our soldiers, some of it being iraqi on iraqi violence.
However, I think our perspectives may be somewhat sheltered from the perspectives of the countries of the middle east.

http://tinyurl.com/2c7ws

The above link is for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs and lists the suicide bomb attacks in their country since 1993. It is quite a list for a country that isn't occupied by a foreign power and isn't experiencing civil unrest.

I don't consider Israel a "failure" and while the current violence in Iraq may seem extreme by our standards, it doesn't provide prima facie evidence of failure of US involvment.

On one hand I sympathize with wanting to remove our troops from harms way, on the other hand, I cannot reconcile with the potential bloodshed that might occur in their absence.

Andy B. said...

Thanks, Larry B.
Could you elucidate where the definition of failure was determined and how that has not changed also to suit the present circumstances?

Your question illuminates just how slippery the outcome of the Iraq war is. Failure would be the opposite of success, so failure would be either 1) not toppling Saddam or 2) not finding wmd or 3) not establishing a democratic government. Number one: success. Number two: failure. Number three: success (open for debate on that one.)

We've changed our definition of success so often, the definition of failure is a moving target, too.

However, I think our perspectives may be somewhat sheltered from the perspectives of the countries of the middle east.

Right on. Well said. To your parallel, the United States does not have troops actively engaged in Israel, trying to stand in between multiple bitter factions.

BruceA said...

I'm conflicted about bringing the troops home immediately. It's possible that without U.S. presence, the situation may deteriorate and thousands more innocent bystanders will become casualties.

On the other hand, it's possible that the U.S. presence in Iraq is exacerbating the problem, and that our withdrawal would ease some of the tensions that have led to so much violence.

Either way, I think we have a moral responsibility to clean up the mess we've made over there. I just don't know how we do that.

Kyle in KC said...

I agree with Brucea, I am not sure what we should do right now. However I do know what to do in November 2008, Vote for change!

Hilary 2008!

Esq. said...

To Larry B. Israel is probably not a success by American standards in that none of us would probably choose to live in a state of near-constant fear of imminent terrorist attack. We do not have mandatory military service and we would not treasure the thought that anytime we stepped on a bus, went into a club or bought groceries we could be kamikazed. It is a success for Israelis and I applaud their persistence, but then again if we had troops there it would be nuts. Iraq is a quagmire. And apparently all but 28 percent of Americans agree. Our presence there has done more to destabilize Iraq than to unify it. We've done good work there - no doubt. We've built infrastructure, helped Iraqis somewhat, but at the end of the day the account sheet on the iraq war is a mountain of debits against paltry credit. It is operating in the red. This war is not about stabilizing the region. It's time to come home. Quickly.
If there will be bloodshed in Iraq in our troops' absence it will be no greater than that in Darfur or a half-dozen other places where we've not established a military presence.
If as could be assumed we went to war to protect valid US interests. It makes little sense to argue we should stay to protect the interests of others.
I read this blog often, though, and Larry B I never agree with you, but do respect your thoughtful comments.

Larry B said...

Well the great thing about Andy's blog is we can all come here and disagree!

Andy B. said...

Esq.,
You said
If there will be bloodshed in Iraq in our troops' absence it will be no greater than that in Darfur or a half-dozen other places where we've not established a military presence.
Interesting point. I had not considered it from this angle before. Not that it makes the bloodshed okay, but it puts it in a new perspective. Thanks.

Kansas Bob said...

Interesting debate ... this war really supports this kind debate because less than one percent of our country sacrifices in any way. I have posted many times about the injustices of being a soldier these days and how the administration systematically dishonors our soldiers. This kind of debate will continue until our country is asked to join the troops in sacrifice.

I wonder, does anyone that supports the war want to discuss a military draft? Probably not ... no one is for the war that much :)

Seamhead said...

Kansas Bob, You are dead right when you say this administration systematically dishonors our soldiers. It seems to me that the war can't go on the way that has no matter what Congress has to say. To continue sending under-trained, under-equipped, and unrested to soldiers back into combat is a recipe for disaster.