Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Homeland insecurity: Vandalism at Camp Casey

No matter your position on Iraq -- and, indeed, there are many possible positions to take, not just the for/against poles of extremism -- can we not all agree that this latest incident at Camp Casey, Cindy Sheehan's encampment near Bush's ranch in Texas, is truly disgusting?

(I'm somewhat mixed on Sheehan -- or, at least, on what she represents. I certainly don't think that parental emotion should govern American foreign policy, but is there any more powerful emotion? And while it's true that one of the costs of war, the most enormous cost of all, is the loss of life, whether military or civilian, it surely isn't right for life to be sacrificed for a cause that isn't just. And that's what this comes down to. Is the Iraq War, now more of an occupation than a full-out war, just? I don't have the answer, but it may be enough, at present, just to ask the question.

Regardless, I find myself, as usual, somewhere in the middle. As I've mentioned here a number of times, I was for the war... well, before I was against it, if I may pull a Kerry. Like many hawkish liberals, I believed that war was necessary, given what I knew at the time. And now? Well, the war/occupation has gone horribly wrong, and we're left with something resembling a quagmire -- a difficult situation from which it will be difficult to pull out. But it's imperative to deal with the facts as they are. And the central fact is that the U.S. invaded Iraq, toppled Saddam's regime, and is now occupying the country even as a new, democratic regime struggles to secure legitimacy and long-term viability amid a bloody insurgent backlash. The loss of life has indeed been a truly horrendous cost, and I can barely imagine the enormity of Ms. Sheehan's pain and suffering (even as I admire her courage and passion), but, to me, the job needs to be finished -- that is, Iraq needs to be stabilized -- before any significant withdrawal can be considered. Lest Iraq (and perhaps much of the Middle East) descend into chaos. And that, I'm afraid, would turn out to be a lot worse than the gross injustices of this war.)

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