Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On The Voices Ex-General Pace Hears From Afar

Yesterday General Peter Pace was given a rousing send off from chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the private sector. Rather than having a heated confirmation fight Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has decided to retire Pace. He is not leaving on his own accord so Pace had a few words to say about his perception on the politics which led to his ouster:
“What worries me is that in some instances right now we have individuals who are more interested in making somebody else look bad than they are in finding the right solution.
Gee, I think Pace is trying to take a shot at people opposed to the war (which is a sizable portion of the American population). But Pace is actually reminding us of President Bush touring the nation immediately prior to the 2006 election and railing against Democrats, saying that a win for Democrats would be a win for terrorists and a loss for America.
“They are more interested in letting their personal venom come forward instead of talking about how do we get from where we are to where we need to be. And if we as a country can accept the fact that, yes, fellow citizens have a right to object -- I can hear voices right now of folks out in the street who are exercising their right of free speech in this democracy to say what they want to say.
Pace is talking about "talking about" how we proceed? It is very difficult to engage in reasonable conversation with a commander in chief, and his blinded rabid supporters who think anyone who does not see things their way are pro terrorist and unpatriotic. The reason this nation is so split is because for many years, when the Republicans held unchecked power in Washington, it was either the President's way or the highway. There was no talking about how we proceed. There was only knuckling under and going along or being castigated for not being patriotic, and being accused of helping the terrorists win. This despite the fact that the administration was forwarding policies which harmed our interests in the war on terror, and strengthened the terrorists! Yer durn tootin' you hear the voices Gen. Pace. Too bad you and the rest of this disastrous administration would never listen to them! As is always the case for those who disagree with Bush and his ilk, those voices are outside the official gathering, kept away from the polite folk who see things the right way. Maybe if he had not just heard the voices from afar, but actually listened to what they said and truly considered their point of view, Pace would not be exiting stage right against his will.
“And I take pride in knowing that the men and women on the parade deck in front of us are going to ensure that they continue to have that opportunity. But I want them to understand -- I just want everyone to understand that this dialogue is not about can we vote our way out of a war.
Actually, that is what this is rapidly turning into. It is painfully obvious that Republican leadership will keep this disaster rolling along for the foreseeable future, but Democratic leadership is trying to find a way out. They may not be able to read a crystal ball and foretell the exact moment that everything is wrapped up under their leadership. But if the nation wants to end the Iraq debacle, (and there is no doubt that they do) then they will have to elect Democrats in order to do it. But as we shall read shortly, what Pace is doing here is trying to conflate the so called War on Terror, which came to our shores on 9/11, with the war in Iraq... which most folk understand really had no connection one with the other. In fact most of us understand that our occupation of Iraq for no good reason has served to strengthen the people who attacked us on 9/11. Staying there after we know we went for mistaken reasons and after we understand that staying strengthens our enemies truly makes no sense.
“We have an enemy who has declared war on us. We are in a war. They want to stop us from living the way we want to live our lives. So the dialogue is not about are we in a war, but how and where and when to best fight that war to preserve our freedom and to preserve our way of life and to do so with the least damage to our own society and the least damage to those we're fighting against so we can -- we can put the pieces back together on the end of this.”
If only Pace were correct about this. But there is no dialogue what so ever. There are two sides, each convinced the other is damaging American interests and trying to outshout the other side. Unfortunately the microcosm provided by the retirement ceremony is all to apt an example of America as a whole. The microphones, cameras, and all the pomp and circumstance were officially given to the administration, at least until the midterm elections. The people who disagreed with the administrations manifestly disastrous policy are relegated to shouting from the sidelines, using megaphones and bull horns to make themselves heard from afar, and being castigated for their trouble. Yet those people represent the large majority of the American people on this issue. Someone giving a speech from the podium as the other side tries to be heard from beyond the gates is not a dialogue.

If the administration is truly interested in a dialogue, where all sides are taken seriously and a bi-partisan way forward can be found, that would be a fantastic development. And everybody with half a brain cell knows the chances of that happening are positively zilch. Until the next election we will continue this disconnected dialogue, and it is people like Peter Pace who have made mighty contributions to this sorry state of affairs.

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