Sunday, September 16, 2007

A letter on Iraq to the New York Times

To the Editor:

What will Iraq look like when it is sufficiently at peace for us to leave? Granted we should never have gone in (I was demonstrating against that when we did), and our original vision was absurd, and the folks who planned and carried out the invasion were as ignorant as they were arrogant. If we could just shoot them and make an end, I'd be all for that. But it wouldn't help anything now.

We can't just leave, no matter how much the American people want to leave -- the situation we leave behind will become an aggressive civil war, and the winner will breed terror for all our friends in the region, and in Europe, and in the U.S. To leave now (unlike Vietnam, where cutting and running was the wisest thing to do) would just produce greater disasters down the road.

I would like to know what the administration (not that I expect them to care) and the military (who do care, because they will have to fact it) and the candidates for the presidency (one of whom will also have to face it) is the Iraq we are hoping, realistically, to achieve, and how will we know it has been reached and we can leave. Benchmarks don't cut it; I want a comprehensive vision.

How will we know we are getting there? It is just turbulence and escalating disaster and more and more refugees (for whom we are morally responsible) now. What would be a step towards improvement? What would be success? Is there any possibility of that? Or has Bush really given us eternal war?


John Yohalem


Anonymous said...

Good God man you write like a first year undergraduate! How pathetic this dreary dirge is.

Anonymous said...


Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Ah, yes... the perils of allowing anonymous posters on a blog. For some reason, trolls are always worse on political blogs. No one knows why--online politics attracts trolls like aging meat attracts flies.

I think the question you raise is the right one, though. Even as a Quaker, I'm uneasy at the thought of simply hightailing it right out of Iraq. Two things keep me from simply shrugging my shoulders on that one, though:

1. A religious conviction that war flat out doesn't work--I am a Quaker, after all--and

2. No sense of the ways, if any, that our being there is actually preventing any bloodshed. Clearly we are subjecting plenty of American men and women to the danger and dehuminization of war. But it's unclear, to me at least, that Iraqi civilians will actually be any better off if we stay.

It is a mess. I'm just not sure blood is the right solvent for cleaning any part of it.

Oh, yes--you should feel free to either set up comment moderation, or to delete comments who only drop insults on your blog. That mess is easy to clean up, thank goodness!