Monday, August 08, 2005

Congress Needs to Lean on Bush to Change Course/Policy on Iraq

"And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it."

- E.L. Doctorow
Congress Needs to Lean on Bush to Change Course/Policy on Iraq
Americans are watching President Bush's stubborn determination with understandable confusion. It's becoming clear that his depth of heart comes nowhere near his hardball political ambition. George W. Bush seems to see himself as "big radical daddy" who wants to change everything we "children" have been raised to believe about the traditional values we've shared. Through his policies, he seems to want to take away the traditionally American (Bible-based) compassion for our fellow man and replace it with "selfy-based" policy (while calling it "faith-based"). We used to know how to translate our Christian hearts into good and decent governmental policies. One unnecessary war and 1800 dead Americans later, citizens are paying close attention to the man at the bully pulpit.

E.L. Doctorow writes:
On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it....To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing...He wanted to go to war and he did...

..He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills - it is amazing for how many people in this country this president does not feel.

I realize that E.L. Doctorow's words are blunt and harsh. Perhaps they are overly judgemental - and yet my own intuition has led me to think the same thoughts about Mr. Bush.

I took note of Doctorow's words for a few reasons. First, my own grandfather died, in 1975, of Black Lung disease. We knew poverty in my family, and we were able to work and climb our way out of it, thanks to our work ethic, commitment to education, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's policies. Second, I believe Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of America's greatest presidents. He knew, all too well, the cost of war and would not lead our boys into war without good reason. Third, actions speak louder than words, and the domestic policies of the current President hold no solace or promise for those living in poverty, but instead pay lip service while, by his policies, paying off special contributors who are living off the backs of the middle class in America. I see the effects of Bush's indifference to the poor in the attitude of his journalist-minions such as Mark Steyn.

It's become fashionable to laugh at the poor - surely not an encouraging example of where we appear to be going in this country.
"The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses."
I thank God, each day, that we have a two-term limit for the office of President. I wonder what has happened to the Republican party of old - the one that gave us Abe Lincoln, who taught us the hard lesson of the value of a united nation and the value of central government - - I look for the party that gave us the great heart of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It's become an empty money-worshipping shell.

I pray, too. I pray that we have all learned a lesson after all of this. I pray for a man (or woman) with a true heart and a keen mind to come to lead our nation. Does that sound like a wish from a gothic fairy tale - a Lord of the Rings or Superman -inspired dream? Perhaps - - but aren't you having the same hopes?


We must look at where we stand in Iraq before we can plot a respectful and successful guide for safekeeping their burgeoning democracy

Is there any man or woman out there today who can look us in the eye and tell us they have a plan to rectify the many mistakes that the Bush administration has made in Iraq?

The only way to preserve America's reputation is for all of Congress to lean upon President Bush to admit his huge mistakes and to bring our warrior-troops home and to make a humble appeal to our international allies for material support in a peace-keeping mission in Iraq. Republicans in Congress need to leave their clinging partisanship at the door and do what is right for America. It only makes sense that we cannot leave Iraqi troops to fend for themselves, because it will not preserve the fragile democracy blooming in Iraq. It's also clear we can no longer occupy the nation - even those who THANK us for freeing them from Saddam Hussein are asking us to leave. Where are the sensible ideas? Are they being squelched because of the President's pointless determination to follow a failing course?

There would be no question that every lost life was worth the cost if only Congress would put their partisanship aside and work in America's best interests, applying political pressure to get Iraq right, for once and for all. No further American troops should be committed until they are committed for a peace-keeping effort with meaningful international cooperation. It is only through an American healing and uniting, with a full dose of humility from the Bush administration, that Iraq can be placed on the best course for success.

If only we could go back to the day before 9/11. Since we can't, let's get back to the spirit of the days following 9/11, when every good soul around the world was an American, if only for that moment. I am an optimist who believes that true civility in mankind can overcome extremism. The atmosphere of American politics that have entered the picture since 9/11 have not tapped into the spirit required to show the world our best intent. I would ask all people serving in the US Senate and the US House of Representatives to recommit themselves to the spirit of a united nation. You have strayed too far from the Promise.

Larry Diamond on "Squandered Victory"

Larry Diamond on "Squandered Victory"

At TPM Cafe, Stanford University professor and democracy expert Larry Diamond has posted his thoughts about his new book, "Squandered Victory." He hopes to have provided an account Americans will see as an honest one, at a time when honesty from our government seems to be a rare commodity. He lays much of the blame for the failure in Iraq at the feet of the civilian war planners in the Pentagon. (And from what we all now know, I'm not surprised). Diamond says:
"In my public speeches, as in the book, I have been quite critical of the mistakes we have made in Iraq, mistakes not just of strategy and preparation but, crucially, of attitude and demeanor as well.

Yet I have also endeavored to highlight some of the things we did, or tried to do, right in Iraq, the efforts we made to establish the precedent for a future Iraq that would be democratic, federal, and united, and the long odds that we were up against. I have found, both in the responses to the book and in my many speaking events since its publication, a great deal of public anger about the human, financial, and strategic costs of our mistakes in Iraq—with many Americans viewing the decision to invade in the first place as the seminal act of folly.

I find a growing number of Americans who believed we did the right and necessary thing to launch a war to topple Saddam Hussein, but now wonder if the effort was worth the price—or how long we can stay there. Most of all, I find a country here at home that remains confused, uncertain, even torn by the experience, and eager for an honest account. My ambition in writing this book was to begin to fill that urgent and very justifiable need."