Democrats & Liberals Archives

Between Words and Actions

Iraqi bullets did not and still do not distinguish between the politics of one target or another. The crushing weight of the collapsing towers did not take one party’s supporters and not the other side’s. The terrorist didn’t offload the Democrats from the planes that hit the towers, nor did they circle the planes while the Republicans escaped the twin towers. Most importantly, they did not care which party was in office when they put the planes into those towers, into the Pentagon. To them, there was and is no difference.

In the end, though, the policies do make a difference.

Pride is a deadly sin in times like ours. It is a sin that breeds complacency, it is a sin that breeds arrogance. While I have no problem with being proud of our country, I do have a problem with us taking that pride, and forgetting that it is based not merely on creeds, but on the quality of our actions.

We can be determined, we can be unwavering, but we must be wise in what we apply our focus and resolve to, because a mistake perpetuated with resolve will be as a cancer upon our good intentions, sapping our will and our strength. We must not waver, but we must not go down some blind alley, cursing those who merely tell us what we are doing. Such actions will consume our ability to fight, and leave us at the mercy of those cruel, indiscriminate enemies.

We cannot falsely believe that this will be a war won on ideals alone, because in the end it is not a war fought for ideals, it is a war fought for power. Osama does not fight us simply because he hates our liberality, our open culture, he fights us, because we are powerful, and he wishes our power to wane, and his to rise. This is not merely a war against Osama's evil, it is a war against his agenda. Whatever we do that furthers his agenda furthers his cause.

He gains his power from the collapse of other people's power. He gains it from the resentment of those who rightly despise their authoritarian governments, but wrongly believe attacking us and the Western world will bring about a better world. He is a different type of tyrant, A truly new evil, born of modern fundamentalism and modern political nihilism.

The Republicans want to believe they have a new cold war, a new long term conflict that will require a remaking of the Middle East. God bless them, they want to do the right thing. Doesn't mean they are. I look at it, and I see a blind alley. It does not mean we should not push for reform, but we should ask ourselves whether our aggressive actions may get in its way. In the end, there is no solution to the fight against Al Quaeda that can work apart from the initiative and will of the people of the Middle East themselves. What Bush has done in Iraq is to vindicate Al Quaeda's view of our country in the eyes of many of these people. In a conflict where their will is ultimately more important to our victory than our own, Iraq is decidedly a mistake, one that may or may not end well, but which still will exact more of a price for Americans than a benefit.

I wish us to succeed there, but I believe it will take a different approach. Will the UN be involved? We will have to see. But one thing is clear- if we have not set up the Iraqi government to stand on it's own two feet by the end of our involvement there, we will see more the soldiers die, there or elsewhere because of it.

The GOP can bring all the grateful Iraqis they want to to the stage to celebrate the wonderful fact that these people are free of Saddam Hussein, but if they fail to give Iraq a democracy that can exist autonomous of the United States, that gratitude will be short-lived.

Bush never presented liberation of the Iraqi people as our main goal in Iraq. He never told us that ours was a pre-emptive battle against his future intentions to gain uncoventional weapons, not his actual possession of them. That is an important difference, by the way, because a pre-emptive strike is supposed to deal with an already existing, yet not already employed threat against us. Preventative wars are illegal. We can't just have nations going to war with each other because they believe the other side might one day march against them, or use a weapon against them.

The Bush Doctrine is a doctrine of destabilization which sets a precedent not only for those who are actually threatened, but those who want to act first and attack some other country with minimal pretense. The time may come where we the fruits of our actions in Iraq reflected in first strike attacks in full scale military form against Israel and Iraq from their neighbors, or a similar incident in Asia regarding Taiwan.

We can talk about courage, we can talk about wisdom, we can talk about being a beacon of freedom to the world, but that is just talk. The results of our policy will always take precedence over the intentions of our policy in their influence over events. When we conquered Iraq, we did so in a month. None of us thought that almost a year and a half later, we'd still be fighting a war, much less that so much of our blood would be spilled.

When we invaded, we expected to find WMDs, and proof of collusion with terrorists. That was our whole justification to the world for what we did- an existing, not potential, existing threat to our national security, a clear and present danger to our country which we could not wait to take care of. We can debate endlessly about the morality of letting Saddam's terrible regime continue in power, but in the end our armed forces were not meant to defend Iraqis and their freedom first, but ours. Our politicians and our soldier swear allegiance to our flag, and swear to defend our country and its welfare first and foremost. While it is not always the easiest choice to make, that is the choice we are duty-bound to make.

Right now, we face a danger from an enemy that thinks long term, that plans extensively, that trains it's soldiers to pass through the cracks in our system. That we have not been attacked since 9/11 should not be reassuring, because they spent eight years planning 9/11. Bush has spent the years since 9/11 proudly proclaiming himself a war president, a president tough on terrorism, a president with the will and the boldness to get things done. The blood of our soldiers, the empty space where the evidence was supposed to appear to justify our war, and Al Quaeda's continued attacks around the world years after it was supposed to be defeated testify that for all the virtues Bush claims, his actions speak differently. For some of us, those actions speak louder than the flag-wrapped rhetoric of Bush's campaign and this convention.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 31, 2004 12:54 AM