Friday, May 4, 2007

Iraq War, Further and Further

I rarely read the opinion section of newspapers—I hate being told what to think. Besides, in a Logic class last year we used to find all the logical fallacies in any random editorial. It’s actually pretty fascinating and a little disturbing to see how they manipulate arguments.

In any case, I DO look at the political cartoon near the editorials and saw this op-ed.

(Mind you, I don’t hold the same disregard for op-eds because it is often worth fighting through the factually ambiguity, etc. of those columns when they are written by significant enough figures.)

That article, written by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari is informatively entitled “Don’t Abandon Us,” so you can guess what he wants. He describes a tableau of normalcy in Baghdad—traffic jams, police sirens, picnics—and beseeches the international community not to leave Iraq. He says Baghdadis are taking back their country and need our help.

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on.

He says that “there is too much at stake to risk failure, and everything to gain by helping us protect our hard-won democratic achievements and emerge as a stable, self-sustaining country,” (reminding me of my two entries arguing against the troop pullout: the comprehensive and the addendum.)

Wait just a minute.

He says “Spectacular attacks may dominate foreign headlines, but they cannot change the reality that Iraq has made steady political, economic and social progress over the past four years.”

What the hell…

I gave the article to our rampant liberal roommate Pat who read it through and had no vitriolic response. He said that it was well written. Then he said that you still can’t ignore the chaos and violence that’s tearing up our soldiers and the country.

Oh dear.

What the hell are the democrats doing, then? They’re contradicting the liberal internationalist position of providing aid to foreign countries! I mean, I guess we shouldn’t go into Sudan, then. I guess we shouldn’t help out other countries.

Here we are, stuck in a terrible war, sitting with an unbelievable opportunity in our lap. We keep messing Iraq up worse and worse while the potential therein has never waned. We can still help them create a functioning free society; we can still help control our image in the middle east by providing economic and other kinds of support and training; lastly, we can still win the fight against Al-Qaeda there and in so doing make the whole world a little safer.

But no, at this point the democrats are so set on removing troops from Iraq that they refuse to see the potential (unless it involves 2008). This is a ridiculous oversight and yet another example of the machination of politics overshadowing its utility in getting anything positive done.

And worse, there is a more disturbing story beneath that op-ed. How can we believe him? According to our news and our newspapers, Iraq is basically a minefield. We hear about bombings everyday and wonder whether there’s any neighborhood in Baghdad that has unshattered windows.

But Zebari tells us specifically NOT to let these stories affect our broader view of the situation, basically implying that if we let the terrorists control our perception, we’ve let the terrorists win.

Now listen. I am so sick of buzzwords killing arguments but I know that if I say “we can’t pullout because then we’ve let the terrorists win” I’m going to get stoned or dismembered or something. But think about the goal of the terrorists. Unlike past wars, they don’t care about killing as many SOLDIERS as possible, they’re war is against perception. They want to incite as much fear (TERROR) and panic and chaos and hopelessness in the society and in the newspapers to make the soldiers deem the situation unwinnable. So, literally, giving in to these perceptions and allowing ourselves to look over the rare positive article about Iraq IS giving up to the terrorists—it is in fact no different than allowing a political administration to shape the way we feel.

That’s right. Manipulative politics is non-violent terrorism.

In any case, we are left with precious little firm ground. We want peace. We want stability. We want free society. And we want these things with minimal loss of life and as quickly as possible. But, like our topmost generals themselves, we cannot know what the REAL situation is—we cannot know, then, the best possible way to go forward. What is there to do?

In the end, I side wholeheartedly with Zebari. There is simply too much at stake. We cannot pull out.