I just read an amazing piece in Mother Jones: “The Way to Go In Iraq,” by Peter Galbraith. I’ll be honest, I am against the war, have been from the beginning, yet I don’t really know what is going on over there. I hear about “benchmarks” but don’t know what those benchmarks might be or why the Iraqi government isn’t meeting them. I have a vague understanding of conflict between Shiites & Sunnis . . . and an even vaguer notion of how the Kurds fit into the picture. In part, this lack of knowledge and understanding can be laid at the feet of mainstream media and the elevation of soundbyte rhetoric over analysis, and histrionics over reasoned debate. In part, however, my ignorance is my own fault, for not seeking out the information–which is available if you take some time to find it.
However, while reading “The Way to Go in Iraq” has certainly made me more aware of my ignorance, it certainly provided me with a great deal more knowledge about the situation and the complexities in Iraq. Covering such issues as the constitution, to how Kurdistan works, to how our military and politic mistakes have given Iran far more influence in the region than we would like to admit.
I highly recommend this article for a couple of reasons. First, so you can gain knowledge. Second, so you can compellingly dispute some of the arguments made for the continuation of the war. Third, so that we can short-circuit all those politicians and pundits who want to blame the American public for losing the war. As Galbraith points out,
Tellingly, the Iraq war’s intellectual boosters, while insisting the surge is working, are moving to assign blame for defeat. And they have already picked their target: the American people. In The Weekly Standard, Tom Donnelly, a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote, “Those who believe the war is already lost—call it the Clinton-Lugar axis—are mounting a surge of their own. Ground won in Iraq becomes ground lost at home.” Lugar provoked Donnelly’s anger by noting that the American people had lost confidence in Bush’s Iraq strategy as demonstrated by the Democratic takeover of both houses of Congress. (This “blame the American people” approach has, through repetition, almost become the accepted explanation for the outcome in Vietnam, attributing defeat to a loss of public support and not to fifteen years of military failure.)
Ending the war will not be a sign of weakness. Losing the war was not the fault of the American people, but of the inept and disastrous policies pursued by an ignorant, willfully stubborn, knowingly deceitful, and dangerously narrow-minded administration. The more we learn about those policies, the more we the people take the time to understand the consequences of our “decider’s” decisions, the easier it will be to shut down the reactionary, neo-conservative, war-mongering rhetoric that still spews from the mouths of too many of our elected officials.