Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Why How We Got Here Matters Going Forward
I continue to believe that the original decision to go into Iraq was a massive strategic blunder, that the two problems that you've pointed out -- Al Qaida in Iraq and increased Iranian influence in the region -- are a direct result of that original decision.The typical response to this undeniable truth from those who support an indefinite continuation of our occupation in Iraq is that we are where we are and rehashing old arguments isn't going to get us anywhere. Of course, those who support an indefinite quagmire in Iraq have proven completely wrong time and again, and the "we are where we are" argument is yet another example of this singularly mistaken approach to the situation. In fact, let me be so bold as to declare that not only is the "we are where we are" logic mistaken, it is transparently silly.
That's not a decision you gentlemen made. I won't lay it at your feet. You are cleaning up the mess afterwards. But I think it is important as we debate this forward.
As America determines how best to proceed it is only fitting that we consider the wisdom and judgement of those we elect to lead us. How can one argue that this criteria is not critical in choosing the nation's leaders? John McCain is going to make a huge issue out of his vaunted experience and many years of service to the nation. In fact, he should make a big deal of that service. BUT... I am hardly convinced that he will be able to turn around and posit that, on the lone subject of Iraq, we are where we are now and judging the people who took us here in a negative light is not fair play.
Of course we should consider past positions and judgement as we consider whom we elect. By definition this opens the debate on who supported driving us into the war. It is nearly automatic that the people who supported President Bush from day one until now have been positively wrong from then until now. Those who backed the President but then saw the light were wrong from the lead up to war until the moment of their conversion. Just look at the record of continual happy talk from Bush and his toadies: the continual chatter about progress being made, the endless milestones on the road to success, the postively inane claims that black is white and up is down in order to paint a rosy picture, the absolutely absurd policy decisions which doomed us to quagmire... How anyone can think that the people who gave us this unbroken chain of wrong headed policy and dishonest assessment can be trusted to find a constructive way forward is simply beyond my comprehension.
Do you think Heckuvajob Brownie should be appointed as the head of FEMA? Would you like Mark Foley back in charge of running the congressional page program? Wouldn't Alberto Gonzales make a great Attorney General? If you reflexively responded with an emphatic "no" to those questions I must ask that you reconsider. Remember when you answer those questions that we are where we are and thinking about past decisions and judgement is not constructive in picking the best way forward. There are a million such examples of just this type of thinking which would lead to manifest disaster, but we are supposed to apply that logic to choosing the path forward in Iraq? Indeed I am hard pressed to imagine any circumstance in which the people asked to choose should not consider past decisions and prognostications while determining who is best suited to lead on a given issue.
Not only is it right that we consider the past judgement of those who wish to be the Commander in Chief when it comes to the war which they will oversee, but such consideration is imperative. Don't let those who have taken this nation into a no win situation convince us that we should forget how we got here and trust them to lead us to victory. If past performance is any indication of the future, the Bush backers can be counted on bringing us another unbroken string of Orwellian rhetoric, burgeoning fiscal deficit and continued deadly quagmire. At some point in time the importuning for Americans to ignore the past will not be heeded. Let us do our part to make that time this year, not four years, thousands of lives, and billions of dollars down the road.
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