Making Peace

To the best of my knowledge, xranger has been reading this site longer than any non contributor of past or present that we have here at Comments From Left Field. If anything, he’s the most frequent poster here. The fact that he’s also conservative also means that we often find ourselves at loggerheads with each other, which is most definitely understandable.

In the comments of this post that I put up earlier today, we again found ourselves at an impasse. And in response to his most recent comment where we were in the stages of kissing and making up, I decided that I would much prefer to answer with another post.

Here is his comment:

Fair enough.I would like to add this caveat, though:I have been pretty steady in my advancement over the last year or so, stating that I fervently wish we WERE NOT in this war. I mean, who wants to be in a war?

Having said that, I am deeply concerned about the consequences, TO THE US, if we merely pull out now and run. The crystal ball is always hazy, but I do not see anything beneficial to the US if we leave. Moreover, I feel we would have to go back in, and the fight at that time could be worse.

It bothers me that the left merely cherry picks the bad news from the front, and throws stones, without adding to the solution. After all, 50% of Congress included Democrats, and they voted for the war. They have a stake in this too.

Finally, I have a son in the Army Infantry right now, so this matter is truly near and dear to my heart.

First, I didn’t know your son was in the Army Infantry. I don’t like insincere talk, so it feels kinda disingenuous to thank him for his service given the fact that it seems to have become an empty platitude that has been exhausted by politicians lately. I do appreciate what he does, and given my own service, I’ve always had a high respect for those who actually were put on the frontlines considering I never saw them myself, nor do I think I could.

I truly hope that no one is under the delusion that merely pulling out of Iraq will make everything okay, this could hardly be further from the truth, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re probably selling something. I don’t know about Hillary Clinton whose rhetoric on the issue seems to be limited to, “If Bush doesn’t get us out of this war, when I’m president I will,” but I do know that there are at least a couple of the Democratic contenders who have been a little clear.

Both Senator Biden, and Senator Obama have made it clear that pulling out of Iraq is merely the best choice out of a list of bad choices to make, nor do either support a complete and total abandonment of the Iraqi people, but more a redeployment that would focus on the Middle East region as a whole, leaving some troops behind to train Iraqi forces and provide some security detail.

I think our troops there are doing good, and they are doing the best that they can given the circumstances, but here’s the dynamic. We brought down a despot, some may call a tyrant. Reign under Saddam Hussein was never pretty, and often violent, and what little peace and stability he was able to give the Iraqi people (which admittedly was not much, but perhaps better than what they have now) could only be achieved through tyrannical means.

Bubbling beneath the surface of that was three separate cultures with deep supergenerational differences that upon the end of the Hussein regime no longer had anything bottling it up and keeping it pinned down.

Of course there are opportunistic entities like al Qaeda who have seen Iraq as a fertile recruiting ground and battlefield upon which to take on the US led occupation, but I believe that the core is between this cultural divide, all of whom now feel that they can dominate the country with Saddam out of the way.

To this extent, the US is not a part of the major conflict, and would be silly to try and interject ourselves in it. We cannot hope to understand nor empathize or even adequately side ourselves in the middle of this conflict. This is something that the Iraqis have to do themselves.

In a way we are doing what Saddam did, albeit in a completely different way. Saddam’s Baathist regime took a side in the long running conflict and held that minority as superior and quelled all dissent. We have leaned, from what I’ve seened, towards the Shia majority, but ultimately we have been trying to stiffle the violence so that the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds can try and come to a peacable conclusion.

But the thing here is that this conflict has to be resolved, and if you want my opinion, where we and Saddam are in common is that we are only postponing a war that is inevitable. It is going to happen whether we like it or not, and we are merely delaying it. Given the attitudes that we are seeing from the Iraqi’s political leaders, they don’t even seem ammenable to a political solution even after we have sent administration officials to warn them that eventually public support is going to dry up and no politician in the US will be able to keep troops over there.

So I believe that things over there in Iraq are doomed to get worse, and most undoubtedly will if and when we pull out, but I also think that there is little hope for progress in the country until we do as the Iraqi’s themselves have to have this conflict, and then find a way to drag themselves out of it because if we’ve seen anything, we don’t have the capacity to do it for them.

All the while, we are drawing resources from our National Guard and spreading our military thin making us weaker both in protection against foreign threats, but also making us less resilient in the case of a natural disaster.

But even more fundamental of a threat to us than that, I believe that at least in part it is our involvement in the Middle East that has made us a target of terrorism. Yes, there will always be fundamentalists everywhere from every faith that seek to throw sanity and caution to the wind, and I think that is the inherent evil of all religions. Christianity has it, from the crusades to the KKK, the followers of Christ have also been plagued by those who twist the words of their messiah for bloody purposes.

However, fundamentalists can be minimized. When Rev. Falwell passed away, there were definitely some liberal bloggers and pundits who danced a little jig on his grave. I didn’t, though I did think the man deplorable, but while he was a fundamentalist who I think was a detriment to ours society, he was not among the ilk of fundamentalists of which I speak; the ultra bigoted KKK are.

In a special episode of the West Wing following 911, entitled Isaac and Ismael, this parallel is drawn; al Qaeda is to Islam what KKK is to Christianity. Small fundamentalists who usurp the words of faith to control wide swaths of people for heinous means. But I’m digressing here. The point is that fundamentalists of this ilk can be isolated and rendered incompetent so long as you don’t give them fodder to recruit. One way is to ensure people have good living conditions and are enjoying an overall decent quality of life, and another way is to not muck things up in their political affairs.

In general, when it comes to the Middle East, we’ve had a non stellar track record as far as the latter goes, and unfortunately with the infrastructure problems plaguing Iraq along with the very indiscriminate violence, we are now at least linkable to two of the factors that actually make people more likely to become terrorists.

So I believe that part of making us safer from the Islamo facists as I believe you put it is to stop making it easy for them to recruit. Like I said, we’re now at a juncture of making the best of a series of bad choices and Arabs and fundamentalists will have plenty of fodder for years to energize supporters and point them in our direction, but at some point we have to stop and try and reverse our policies.

I believe that the best way to do this is to extricate ourselves from their politics in general. We are trying to force our way in as insiders, or at least that is the image that is portrayed, and we can’t do that especially given the high level of distrust that Iraqis feel towards us. We need to not try and influence their politics from the inside, but instead as an external entity, one that they can choose autonomically how to deal with.

We need to let them settle their own conflict. We need to not try to be an internal part of their politics.

Finally, it is very possible that we’ll have to go back there, and even as possible that the fighting will be worse at that time, but here’s the thing, we are locked in stasis right now and if we continue on the path that we are on, we will always be in this conflict with no hope of progress. At least this future conflict would have the possibility of real progress at the end of it (that is depending on the nature of this conflict. The forseeable scenario being a genocide scenario in which we can do much like we did in Kosovo, blitz the offending party until the choose to stop. It may be a bloodier battle, but at least there we will have a clear and attainable goal, and the moral highground on our side).

I understand, X, why this is an important issue to you. I wish your son the very best, I wish he does good while he is over there. You didn’t say whether he was currently home or deployed. Personally I hope he’s home this weekend to spend some time with his family this father’s day, but if he’s deployed, then my biggest wish is for him to do good while he’s over there, and then come home safely and in one piece.

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