What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: geoftheref
Far too often do I hear the argument that our military must remain in Iraq “until we’ve won”. The most recent example occurred last night, with presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee claiming that we “broke Iraq” and have to “fix it”. Those who hold this belief feel that we must “stay the course” and “see it through until the end”.
Such persons fail to ask several basic questions regarding the war, and foreign policy in general, that merit serious discussion (and especially by those in Congress, not just the historians, as Huckabee argued).
Some examples of such questions are:
- Why are we in Iraq?
- Is the current reason we’re in Iraq the same as the initial reason offered?
- Who formulated the plan we’re now following in Iraq? And when?
- What benchmarks, if any, have there been to track our progress?
- Have we been told the truth in regards to what is currently taking place in Iraq? If not, who is hiding what?
- When do we plan on leaving?
- Why are we building 14 permanent bases in Iraq, one of them bigger than the Vatican?
- What authority was given for our military intervention? Is it valid? Has the rule of law been respected?
- Can we afford this war?
- Is it worth it?
- Would I be willing to go fight in Iraq myself, or send one of my children? Is it a just war?
This list can no doubt continue. Many of these questions, if not all of them, are ignored by those who push us forward to an invisible end. These people, clamoring for “honor” and “democracy”, seemingly dismiss such important questions, claiming that they no longer matter since we are already there.
Since we are already there, they say, we must “finish the job”. The only problem is, what is the job? We have been given at least nine reasons for the invasion of Iraq. The goals we are now allegedly pursuing are not the same as when we went in. Who is to say that they won’t continue to change, allowing our administration to keep us mired in the middle eastern bog for decades to come?
For all the reasons offered in the past several years, as Representative Ron Paul notes, the argument has been reduced to this: “If we leave now, Iraq will be left in a mess”. We must stay until we’ve won, says the latest soundbyte used by the warmongers.
Allow me to offer an example as to why this “stay until we’ve won” business is so fallacious.
Imagine that you’ve arrived at a distant neighborhood where you see the children playing a game together. You’ve never seen this type of game being played, but you desire to participate. So you jump into the thick of it, not sure what you’re doing. You want to win, but you don’t know what the rules are. You don’t even know what the objective of the game is.
Not only that, but the objective of the game changes on a random basis. You look around, confused, at the other players who understand what is going on and are playing the game, while you proceed to mess things up by getting in the way.
Do you persist, hoping that by some miracle you will indeed win? Do you hope that the rules will remain the same for once and you’ll be able to pursue a solid objective?
No. You cut your losses and leave. You move on to more important things. You get out of the way and observe from a distance. Once you’ve learned the rules of the game, one of the players might invite you to participate. But until that time, you’re to mind your own business.
Such is the case with the current events in the middle east. The neighbors there have been playing a game for centuries, and in comes the arrogant traveler thinking he knows best and understands how to play. Indeed, Dick Cheney had it right in 1994 when he opined that our entry into this real life game of Risk would be a “quagmire”. Truer words were never spoken.
You see, the people who worry about staying until we’ve won—simply because we’re already there—are those who keep plugging holes in the old pipe instead of replacing it. All that leads to is continued problems requiring immediate intervention and patching, thus never solving the larger problem at all.
When a doctor makes an errant diagnosis and prescribes an incorrect treatment, it is quite foolish to claim that the course must be continued simply because it’s already been started. Immediate action must be taken to correct the wrong instead of persisting in error.
We must not stay in Iraq “until we’ve won”, for there are no concrete objectives, there are no solid benchmarks, there are no just reasons for our being there, and there are far too many questions left unanswered by those who propelled us into a preemptive, aggressive invasion of another country.