Sunday, February 12, 2006

Grasping At Straws: More than Just Our Freedom At Stake.

I realize that some may not agree with what they will read in this post at first. Some may even try to say I’m some kind of republican light. But when it comes down to brass taxes, I am an American first, for without our home, our party is pointless. Please understand, I wish we lived in a world in which I had no need to ponder on such sobering topics, but that road is not the one that lies before me.

Over the summer of 2005, I found myself in such a state of outrage, that I lashed out with the only weapons I had, the 1st Amendment and my computer. As a computer novice, I started out on Congressman John Conyers’ website, and soon found myself penning an open letter to the press ripping them a new one for ignoring stories critical of the Bush administration. This later led me start a website with a fellow “Patriot” dedicated to providing insight into the Bush administration’s dealings in the Middle East and Iraq called SoapBox4Truth.org. This lead me to Washington and to sign on with groups like After Downing Street.org, Democrats.com and Gold Star Vets for Peace.



As of late, I've ducked out of the fray. Aside from all of the data mining cookies I collected on my home computer when I was working on my website, I felt comfortable with the status of the movement I thumped for. But, as the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for......"

I am proud of the work done by these groups. I’ve gone from being laughed off of Washington Journal by Kevin Aylward of Wizbang for bringing up the word “Impeachment” on June 4th 2005, to hearing it at least once a day in the MSM. But now I fear that some of the rhetoric used by many of the groups involved in this necessary political knee capping of the Bush administration jeopardizes this accomplishment and could inadvertently cripple the Democratic party as a whole in ’06 and ’08, and possibly, our entire country.

No longer do I worry the about whether or not the government is keeping track of me, because now everybody knows their doing it. Today I’m more concerned that, in the process of exposing our current problems caused by the Bush league actions of Team Bush (pardon the pun), we risk making matters worse by hitching our cabooses to a combination of unilateral isolationism and the inadvertent handicapping of our ability to defend ourselves from the enemies we’ve incurred. Booting Bush is only half the “War on Terror”. When he’s gone, we will still have to deal with the barbarians he invited to our gates.

Accept it or not, the Democratic Party has been decapitated by the last two Presidential elections. We have no coherent message, because we have no legitimate leader. In a way, we are in the same boat as the people of Iraq. We are rapidly fracturing along ever degenerating lines of personal peeves. Issues like values, and religion in public life has spawned small groups of ultra secularists that are taunted by the right into frivolous public debates over things like Christmas, art, and civil liberties. Then the Republicans beat us over the head and paint us into a corner on issues that most Democrats find unrelated to the business of running a country, and would never bring into the voting booth in the first place. But most disturbing of all, is the split over how to deal with Iraq and the “War on Terror”.

Some insist that we pull out of Iraq now. I empathize with, and respect most of the people who feel this way, especially Cindy Sheehan. I understand her position. Why should American troops sacrifice their lives for a lie? We should never have gone over there without a righteous justification. And she is absolutely correct when she says that every soldier that dies in Iraq under the Bush administration has been an unacceptable sacrifice.

So many of the PFC’s, NOC’s, and those who re-enlisted into the military after 9/11 signed up to fight Al-Qaeda, and though they may be fighting them now in Iraq thanks to Bush’s “Bring ‘em on” mentality, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. A few years down the road, maybe, a strong, honest case could have been made to move on Saddam, but this was not the case. And the damage has already been done.

Some believe that we can force the Bush administration to do the right thing, and that we should ride him hard, but let him finish the job. “He’s still the President, we must support him.” I’m sorry Joe, but that’s just stupid.

And some think that we can leave all inhibitions behind and adopt tactics that inadvertently cripple Bush’s ability to fight this Godforsaken war by leaking anything and everything just to destroy his credibility. Now I understand the pretext for this course of action, and I admit that it’s a problem that we all have, out of desperate necessity, condoned. But in the process, we are unintentionally creating an atmosphere that jeopardizes our national security. Whistleblowers are patriots, but times like these personify Ben Franklin’s teachings on security vs. freedom. Case in point; the leaking of the FBI’s Radiation Monitoring programs. Anyone with even a basic understanding of material science knows that you don’t need to be standing in the same room with a block of plutonium to be able to detect it with a Geiger counter. Yes, this may be viewed by the right as “Grasping at straws”, but when I see our country sinking into the abyss, I find it incogitable to blame the victim under the boot for disturbing the water.

Ultimately, we are not to blame for this. The Bush administration created this situation by overstepping their authority, lying to Congress and America, and engaging in ruthless, deceptive, and on many occasions, blatantly criminal political tactics. We should have never been forced to take such extreme measures, but in my view, the Bush administrations draconian devices, represents an equally disquieting risk to national security, rivaling what any foreign power could ever pose. And I’m sure that most of you agree.

Personally, I would have felt slightly more comfortable with John McCain exercising such a blatant breach of Executive powers, like domestic spying in the name of national security, if only based on the fact that he endured torture in the service of his country before engaging in, then later conscientiously formulating, American foreign policy in Congress. But we don’t live in a world molded by such past possible events. And that’s beside the point.

I fear for where we may find ourselves in the next few years if we don’t come to grips with the fact that we must remain in Iraq until we at least help them find a way to live in relative security. But neither forcing Bush to finish the job, or cutting and running will serve to give America or the Middle-East even a single good night’s sleep. If we leave now, we will be forced to return. And when we do, it won’t be a war of choice, or a war of mere national security, it will be for our very existence. It will be the Armageddon that the Christian Right salivates for.

So we must help to create the conditions for a successful impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. And it must be done with a well respected Democrat sitting as the Speaker of the House. Not a capitulator and not a Trojan horse. Any respect our country would gain on the world stage, and the Muslim street, by removing Bush and Co. from power will be lost if we just pack up and leave a big mess without at least trying to stabilize Iraq.

Common sense must be the standard by which we tool our consensus. Unilateral withdraw is dangerous and misguided. Even if we stand down slowly, American troops will still be in Iraq for years to come, even if we move out of the cities (which would be a positive step). I just don't see the Iraqi government lasting very long without the U.S. military in theater. Even if we stand up 200,000 Iraqi troops and police, they would never last without U.S. logistical support, or political pressure. They will collapse and turn on each other.

If Bush is gone, and we are seen to be accepting of our responsibility to the Iraqi people, then the world will say that bin Laden beat Bush, and I can learn to live with that. It could also strengthen our hand in our quest to dismantle Al-Qaeda, and for bin Laden’s head. But if the Democrats succeed, and then proceed to pull out prematurely, then the world will say bin Laden beat America. I’m sorry, but I can’t live with.

Even in the event of a splintered Iraq, American troops would still be stationed in Kurdistan. The Kurds will never kick us out under such circumstances. Unlike the Sunni Arabs and the Shia, they have no friendly states on their boarder. The Turks would hit the roof if they Kurds break away from the central government in Baghdad. They fear that Kurdish nationalism would lead to unrest in Turkey’s Kurdish minority population. It will become our job to play mediator between the Kurds and the Turks, but honestly, that's a plus for us.
The Kurds are big nationalists and have shown a willingness to deal amicably with secular Sunnis and moderate Shi’ites in the past. But most ominously, the Kurds in the Iraqi army are still loyal to the Peshmerga, are of superior training, see most Sunni’s as terrorist facilitators, and are well positioned to take tactical advantage if the central government shows signs of failure. Of course, his may not be the best outcome, but it could become and acceptable alternative. If they were to secure Mosul and Kirkuk, I’m confidant that their semi-solid democratic tendencies could thrive, and in time, become a calming entity in the region, but only with U.S troops on the ground helping with east/west boarder security and as a diplomatic stop gap with Turkey. And hopefully, they will help to minimize the possible premise of my next point by playing a similar role in the south.

There is one, more frightening reason not to screw things up in Iraq. We would be facilitating the rise of a pan-Persian empire, ruled by the Mullahs and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Party, and possibly armed with nukes. If you think things are tense in Asia Minor now, you haven’t seen anything yet. And if you think the Neo-cons and the Christian Right are dangerous, then you have to remember that it takes two to tango. Not only would such a powerful potential rival be dangerous to America and the West in general, it would only prove to strengthen their opposition, the Neo-cons and the Christian Right. Talk about manifest destiny, I shudder to think.

The longer we leave Bush and Co. in power, the more perilous our situation becomes. We should support the work of people like Rep. John Conyers, Rep. John Murtha, Gen. Wesley Clark, Paul Hackett, Cindy Sheehan, our troops, and the hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who sign petitions, march, blog, and strive to learn and give voice to the truth. We should continue to help groups like After Downing Street.org, Democrats.com, Gold Star Families for Peace, Raw Story, The Fighting Dems,
and the growing numbers of former government employees, journalists and public figures who are using the pen our forefathers gave to us.

However, we must make sure they know that the problems we face won’t just disappear if we impeach Bush and leave the field of battle. We, as Americans, have a lot of burnt bridges to rebuild. We need to regain the respect we’ve lost in this world. And most important we must safeguard our nation and the honor of our fallen protectors by not just ending this war, but by finishing this war, and facing the unsavory truths that feed our sons and daughters to the dogs of war. If we ever owed our troops anything, we owe them this.

Pleonexia: Beyond Hubris

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