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Friday, August 19, 2005

shifting winds

It's palpable. On TV, on the blogs, in the news, America is turning against this war. Cindy Sheehan is certainly indicative of that, and puts a sympathetic face on the movement. Republicans are growing bolder in expressing their concerns. Senator Feingold is offering a timetable for withdrawal. Members of the House are asking the President to do the same. Polling is bad.

But nothing exposes the shifting political momentum like this appearance by Ken "Talking Points Action Figure" Mehlman. His silly platitudes, empty rhetoric and totally false sympathy are so bad that it's fun to watch. You can sense that, as opposed to usually, this administration (Mehlman is RNC Chair, but is essentially another White House spokesman) is on the defensive and grasping at its old arguments for some support.

The intellectual challenge now for those of us who are loving to see the GOP and this lying President get hammered politically and are thrilled that the American people are starting to ask serious questions, is to disconnect the fate of Bush to the fate of the occupation of Iraq.(more in expanded post)
Simply because this war was based on a combination of idiotic fantasies ("they'll greet us as liberators!" or "the Shiite, Sunni and Kurds will get along no problem!"), manipulations ("9/11 = Iraq") and lies ("we know where the WMDs are") does not NECESSARILY mean that leaving immediately is the best answer. And while I celebrate that the people who are making that argument are gaining ground and destroying this President, I am wary. Serious questions that require serious analysis need to be answered before any conclusion about what to do now can be answered:

1. Will it be either possible or good for Iraq to remain as sovereign whole or will it be split up like India in '47 or Ireland in '21?

2. What effect do US troops have on this process? Are we making it easier or harder for Iraqis to determine the answer to question 1?

3. To what extent if any, does the US have the right to interject its own answer to question 1 either on behalf of Iraqi women, ethnic minorities or its own national safety interests?

4. How much and in what way will we withdraw, and what will the effect be?

I don't know enough to answer any of these questions, and I worry that the same may be true for many in the anti-war movement (as it seems to be true in the pro-war movement). They are right to protest an unjust war and the countless Iraqi and American deaths that have resulted, but both sides (those who believe we should remain and those who believe we should stay) need to answer all of those questions before their argument will mean anything.

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