Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My views on the war in Iraq

Some people I know had asked for a clarification on my views on the war in Iraq. They asked, because they thought that they sensed an inconsistency in my views, so this blog entry is for the sake of that clarification.

First, I was opposed to going into Iraq largely because I am opposed to war in general. Understand that I am no "peacenik" who wants peace at all costs, because sometimes the cost is too high if it means giving up freedom. However, the emergence of war usually indicates a failure to communicate somewhere along the line. I believe that most wars are avoidable, and I believe that the war in Iraq was avoidable.

I'm also opposed to this war because I don't feel that we exercised all our options. We also didn't have a clear idea or objective in mind, nor did we have an exit strategy. Our goals going in were to seek "WMDs", but later it became the removal of Saddam Hussein, then it became the liberation of Iraq. Now it's "to establish a democracy in Iraq, so that they may serve as an example to the rest of the Middle East". This shows a lack of foresight on the leadership - something unacceptable for being in a war, because wars already have a tendency to go beyond even the instigator's control, and without a clear objective or goal in mind, then the exercise of that war becomes a waste of the lives of our soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, as well as damaging to the population and the social structure in the area that it's being waged in. Sound familiar so far? The above is my usual "anti-war" rant.

Okay, here's the part where people get confused over my views. I oppose the war, but I also think we need to finish the job we started there. In other words, it would be an enormous mistake to simply pull up stakes and leave Iraq right now. As evil as Hussein was - and I am glad that he is no longer in power - he also was the power structure there. We are now the power structure in Iraq, and since we have upset the power structure there, we owe it the Iraqi people to help them back to their feet. To simply get up and leave now would be the height of irresponsibility.

This view makes people think that I am now in favor of the war. I still am not. But I also know that we caused the collapse of the power structure in Iraq, and if we are going to be the good guys that we say we are, then we can't leave until we live up to the responsibility that we placed upon ourselves regarding the ultimate fate of the country of Iraq and its citizens. Again, we placed this burden upon ourselves when we decided to go into Iraq - the Iraqis did not ask us to come there. The way I see it, there's two possible outcomes, with two possible and opposite results.

One, we leave now. The result: we make ourselves to look like the most thoughtless, most arrogant, most irresponsible country on the planet who thinks nothing of going into another country that is absolutely no threat to us, and creating chaos there and leaving once we've lived out our "Rambo" fantasies.

Two, we stay and help Iraq get re-established again. The result: Iraq becomes an example of a country that can rise from the ashes with a little help from the world community. Then perhaps Iraq's example can occur in other countries nearby. This sounds close to Bush's "Let's make a democracy in Iraq" plan, and it's also why people then think I'm in favor of the war. But we simply don't know if Iraq can become a democracy. I would settle for it being a peaceful, stable country that does not contribute to terrorist activities.

Look folks, I didn't want this war, but that's a moot point now. Leaving now won't magically undo what we've already done there. We're there now, and we need to be responsible enough to do this right, because if we leave now and the problem there gets worse, then we'll have an even bigger mess to clean up. On top of that, we will have the ire of the Iraqi people to deal with for having left in the first place.

Not only that, how could they trust us to do things right that second time? What would make them believe that we wouldn't just bolt again if things got too difficult? And folks, I wouldn't blame them for feeling that way. This is why I say let's fix this right the first time. We owe it to them to do that much.

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