Thursday, December 23, 2004

Speak Plainly

I have at various times in the last three years stood by several very different opinions with regard to America's attempt to police the Middle East. Let's go ahead and call a spade a spade. That's what we're doing. We're policing a bad neighborhood. In Iraq today there are innumerable factions divided between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds, theocrats, technocrats, tribalists, Baathists, Islamists, and probably at least one political satirist. What I'd like to point out is that if America stands for anything, if we want the lives of our dead soldiers to mean anything we must ensure that we leave Iraq with these groups, nay, these individuals, represented in some form of democratically elected government.

We, have sent our men and women in uniform into harms way to eliminate a totalitarian regime, and have found ourselves involved in a prolonged conflict. My patience for hearing ivory tower academics denounce the war in its entirety is exhausted. Certainly criticism of officials managing the war strategy, both military and political, is appropriate, even patriotic, however it is unpatriotic in the highest order to insinuate that a pullout from Iraq, after having destabilized that region, is appropriate. I call it cowardly. I call it cowardly because it is irresponsible, shortsighted, and because those prominent columnists who insinuate that we should execute such a "strategy" do so under the guise of bold criticism for the administration. We now owe it to the people of Iraq, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and all, to leave them with at least more stability and security than they had when we came.

I propose a new code for op-ed journalism, a very simple rule to follow: If you don't like it, offer a solution. Simply stating that something is evil, dangerous or ineffectual after the fact simply doesn't cut the mustard for quality journalism. Maureen Dowd, someone whose writing I have hithertofore admired, has, among widely circulated columnists, been most guilty of breaking this rule. Maureen, like it or not, we're in a war. If you can't offer solutions then give your rather prominent space in the Times to someone who can. I wonder if after rear-ending someone you would feel the need to give a twenty minute denouncement of traffic patterns and your own driving before exchanging insurance information. It strikes me that Ms. Dowd would be willing to leave Iraq in the hands of Baathist militants, a group who, as her counterpart Thomas Friedman points out, have been begged to come to the table of democracy and declined in favor of what amounts to gang violence. I'm afraid, Maureen, that two wrongs don't make a right. Leaving Iraq in its present state would definitely constitute a second wrong.

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