I agree that using the right words matters, so redeployment is probably a good word. But getting into this discussion about whether it’s a withdrawal or not strikes me as the wrong focus. The focus needs to stay on the fact that Iraq is a disaster and Bush has no plans for victory or for ever bringing our troops home, AND that lack of a plan is hurting us internationally and domestically as our troops are far overstretched and unable to respond to other concerns (Iran, helping fight the war on terror at home, responding to natural disasters, etc.).
With the majority of the public wanting us to withdraw from Iraq, I have half a heart to suggest we just say it publicly – yeah, we’re for withdrawal and the Republican party is not. If George Bush was president in the 1970s we’d still be fighting in Vietnam today because “cutting and running” would be “un-American.”
I just start to wonder after a while what we’re waiting for, Democrats I mean. As a party of people who have common goals, among them equality, community, and justice. I wonder what it will take to make our leaders take a stand on an issue that carries less and less risk every day.
They can’t be waiting for the polls. The polls are already on our side.
They can’t be waiting for the news. The news already bears out everything we would say.
They can’t be waiting for the people. The people are right here, and they’re asking. Hell, they’re placing an order, all we have to do is go tack it on the board.
So who or what are we waiting for? Does Tim Russert have to hold our hands and promise, double hard, not to say anything mean if we call for withdrawal? Does Joe Lieberman have to promise not to be a tooly Zell Miller wannabe? Does Karl Rove need to write us up a get-out-of-attack-ads-free card, assure just this once that it’s okay, he won’t strike back?
BECAUSE IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
And I don’t know how much longer we can wait.
Look what we’ve already sacrificed. Look what’s already been lost. We torture the innocent to death, and no one blinks, no one moves. We spy on our own, and Congress sits, and you’d think it was still a secret for all that exposing it to light has done. We take people — soldiers, aid workers, journalists — and send them into harm’s way and we tell them and ourselves that it’s about freedom, and when they’re killed we use their bodies to prove our points, one to the other. I look around me sometimes, and I do not recognize my fellow man. Look what they’ve done to us, look what we’ve done to ourselves. I am disgusted. I am disappointed. I am ashamed.
I am ashamed that so many of those who would lead us have waited until now to raise their voices even one decibel. I am ashamed that my faith in my country has been shaken, I am ashamed of how much I have come to hate my fellow Americans. I am ashamed of my party, that we cannot speak with one voice and at least, at the very least, offer our country another way to go. One other way. Not 74 ways, all of them dependent on the 2008 presidential ambitions and re-elections prospects of the speaker. One way. Just say it, for fuck’s sake, for the love of God and for the salvation of your own miserable souls. Take a long hard look, if you can bear it, at what they’ve done while you sat by, bided your time, waited, kept your powder dry. Take a look, and say it. SAY IT.
No more nuance. No more “right words” and debates about framing, no more allowing for different people with different views to all have equal time on the stage to confuse the shit out of people as to what the choices in the upcoming elections actually are. No more praising of those who undermine the message that needs to get out to get themselves some attention. Simple. Clear. Immediate. None of this “the war is a good cake badly frostened” or apologizing afterwards for going just a little bit too far.
Look how long we’ve waited. Look what’s happened in the meantime. Who do we look to as our inspiration? Who are the leaders of the past whom we love and respect? What would they say to us now, waiting, searching for the words? When there is injustice that deepens with every second that goes by? And we’re worried, really still worried, because there’s still some people out there who have to be convinced? This daunts us. With more than half the battle won, we’d like to hang back a bit, just till it’s safer. And then till it’s safer again.
And to those who are still, still, futilely clinging to the fantasy that people want us to fix what we’ve broken, oh Lordy can you not put your capacity for self-deception to better use? Please? We have no one in power at present who is remotely capable of fixing Iraq, and the time for the American people to demonstrate they wanted somebody to fix it was on Nov. 2, 2004. You heard them, you were there. Even if it was possible to undo the damage we’ve done, is it remotely possible that this president, this Congress, this people, cares enough about Iraq to flood it with every soldier and sailor we have or can find, with every dollar we can mint, and smite every enemy? Can you really see this happening? Because if you can’t, but you hold out for that nonetheless, your self-deception implicates you in this. There’s nothing wrong with wishing this could end well, for the Iraqis, for the Americans, for our two countries. I wish it could end well, too. Wishing for a good outcome isn’t a crime. Continuing to put people in a bad situation to fulfill your delusions, that’s a crime, or should be.
There’s one path left. Everybody’s already on it. It gives me no joy, but we don’t have the luxury of waiting to feel good about it anymore. Too many have died. Look what we’ve already lost. It’s time we start down the road before we lose any more.