Thursday, June 15, 2006


Let's talk about Iraq

So now the Republicans want a debate.

Now they want a debate, after refusing to debate some of the most important bills to be introduced, like S. 11, the Standing With Our Troops Act, or H. R. 2131, the "New GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century Act." No debate has been had on S. 2230, the Servicemember Safety Act of 2006, a bill requiring that every servicemember have "complete personal armored protection."

No, instead, they want to debate a non-binding resolution drafted out of political anxiety over midterms than out of true concern for our troops.

They want to talk now? OK. Let's talk.

Let's talk about 2,500 American lives lost. About the 18,490 wounded. About the 337 contractors killed. Let's talk about 40,000--forty thousand Iraqis dead because of our intervention. Or about the journalists killed in Iraq, more than in any war of the past century.

Let's talk about permanent bases. Why don't Republicans explain to the American people why they refuse to rule out a permanent presence in Iraq? They deleted the no permanent bases provision from recent House and Senate bills.

Let's talk about the fact that the Bush administration has admitted it is thinking about leaving some 50,000 troops in Iraq for years, possibly decades.

Let's talk about torture and massacres. Let's talk about innocent detainees at Guantanamo Bay committing suicide. Let's talk about Haditha, where its alleged that over two dozen humans were massacred by American troops. Let's talk about Abu Ghraib, about the stonewalling investigations, about the lack of accountability.

Let's talk about corruption. Let's talk about 21 billion American dollars missing in Iraq. Let's talk about President Bush, who declared that the Inspector General could not investigate these crimes.

Let's talk about Baghdad.

Let's talk about blood.

And while we're at it, let's talk about the real War on Terrorism, the forgotten war taking place in the mountains and streets of Afghanistan. No Republican dares mention Osama bin Laden, or the Taliban. Because to mention them, even in hushed whispers, is to admit that in this real war launched in response to the 9/11 attacks...victory is so, so far away.

But they don't want to talk about this. They don't want to talk about reality. All they want to do is gruesomely rejoice in pictures of dead terrorists in golden frames as evidence of victory. One murderer many more to go?

And so, thirsty for that manufactured controversy upon which they constantly subsist-- Republicans are daring Democrats to vote against this resolution.

Well, I dare them to go to Iraq. I dare each and every member of Congress to fly over there (it will have to be a "surprise" visit you know...). And not in one of those perfectly orchestrated photo ops where everything is planned down to the color of the bullet-proof vests.

I dare them to step one foot outside of the pseudo-reality of the Green Zone. I dare them to venture off a military base, I dare them to walk around without a dozen body gaurds--you know, like ordinary Iraqis do.

I dare them to venture into a war--most of them haven't seen war. Ever. And that is why it's so effortless for them to argue with a straight face that we should "stay the course." It's easy to make such arguments, when you don't live in daily fear of bullets and bombs.

As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down is the empty mantra they have been peddling to the American people. It's true, thank god, that most Iraqis desire peace and are standing up to stabilize their country.

But we cannot ignore that there is a civil war in Iraq. Take off your partisan blinders, oh intentionally oblivious Republicans, and acknowledge the quagmire that we have created. Acknowledge that some Iraqis are standing up, and are granting pardons to those who murdered American troops. That Iraqis are standing up, and are deserting the Iraqi Army in alarming numbers (in some units, desertion is as much as 40%). Acknowledge that Iraqis are standing up and are slaying each other, torturing each other, killing each other at a rate of 30 innocent souls killed a day.

Acknowledge that Iraqis are standing up, all right. And we're standing in quicksand as we stubbornly refuse to budge an inch as Iraq descends into chaos and disorganization.

America's invasion of Iraq was, as we all know now, unnecessary. But what is necessary now is for us to put aside this destructive egotism which has seeped from the Republican Party and stained our foreign policy. Iraq is now an international humanitarian crisis, and it requires an international response.

It's high time this nation takes a grown-up approach to war. This isn't a game. Those are real humans out there, not plastic little soldiers. They live, they bleed, they yearn for home. They have real families and real needs. And this childish game of chicken Republicans are playing with terrorists will fail, and it will fail in the most horrendous and bloody manner. And we will lose.

For "staying the course" is profoundly stupid strategy. It's the strategy of fools, of those who fail to see the cliff before them.

So let the Republicans talk today, let them childishly call us names and baselessly attack our character. It's what they do. They're great at politics, so let them play their theater. Let them play their games with their empty resolutions and deceptive rhetoric.

Soon, but never soon enough, there will be grown-ups in Congress again who will have a real debate on this war. It will be a debate aimed at finding solutions for bring our troops home victorious. That is the type of debate our troops deserve, not this--this which keeps them wallowing in the desert with nothing more than a tattered, ineffectual "resolution" to shield them from the relentless storms of violence.

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