A Facial & A Paradox

Not your momma's faceA woman in France has a new face. Her old one bitten off by a dog, she has received a new grafted face lifted from a brain dead patient. The company that performed the surgery is called — and this is no joke — “Saving Faces – the Facial Surgery Research Foundation.” I wonder if the brain dead donor agrees with the title.

I’m reading a book about paradoxes in human psychology, how our religions tell us “love one another” and our jobs tell us “exploit one another.” How we abhor torture but we regularly eat animals that live their entire lives in conditions few prisoners of war have ever faced. It got me thinking about politics (as these things tend to do), and I thought about the Iraq war. I was against it at first, not because I was a “peacenik”, nor because I didn’t think Saddam was a super-villain, but because I simply felt Bush was manipulating the public into a war, and I felt that any war entered into where all the facts aren’t clear is a mindless and stupid thing. Yet many prominent Democrats voted in support of the war. And now, many Democrats (and in their defense, not a majority), are calling for a quick removal from Iraq.

My “Danger-Will-Robinson” flag is going up. There is hypocrisy here.

iTortureIt’s not just because the Dems changed their mind. That’s allowed. But are we just supposed to pull out from Iraq just because it’s not going well over there? Do we leave the country in shambles, with a broken government and no real power, or — heaven forbid — we do what G.W.B. suggests we do and stay the course until completion? I hate to admit it, but I agree with Ol’ George on this one. It’s a paradox, I know. I didn’t want this war, but now that we have it, the best route is to finish it right.

Case in point: Afghanistan. We gave them training and weapons to fight the evil Communist Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall fell. The USSR became “democratic” CIS and all was well again in the world. But what about the Afghanis? Well, f**k them, we said. We just left them to hang because we didn’t need them anymore. Guess what, ladies and gentlemen, when you leave a vacuum, something will come along to fill it (nature abhors one). Can you say, “Taliban” ?

Iraq needs our help now. Sure, Bush and Haliburton are sliming their greedy hands on the plethora of oil. But just because we loathe our “faith and values” Presidential leader doesn’t mean we should throw out the baby with the bath water. The Iraqi people are suffering immensely. A paradox is where two contradictory statements can be true simultaneously. My paradox is that I don’t support Bush, but I agree with him about Iraq. We need to finish the job we started, whatever it takes. America doesn’t just up and leave when the going gets tough. At least, that’s what I like to believe.

As always on this blog, your mileage may vary.

4 Replies to “A Facial & A Paradox”

  1. Reality is grey; the world is complex. This President has scoffed at those politicians (especially ones from the other party) who see “nuuuu-ance” (he mockingly pronounces it that way) in international affairs. If only it *were* as simple as just “finishing the job we started” or as the President has vaguely put it, “staying as long as it takes.”

    What’s the “job” we’re there for? And as long as “what” takes?

    It’s part of our patriotic duty to ask tough questions about why we’re risking the lives of our young troops every day. The President and the VP have repeatedly suggested that questioning our role in Iraq is unpatriotic and lends support to the terrorists. (That’s why they lambasted Rep. Murtha, a decorated veteran, for questioning this adminsistration’s Iraq policy and suggesting that it was time to start withdrawing some troops and repositioning others to the perimeter of Iraq).

    What are our goals in Iraq? To eliminate weapons of mass destruction? (Pre-war, the Congress, Democrats and Republics alike, and the American public fully supported this goal and were willing to go to war for it). To topple an iron-fisted dictator? To set up the framework for a new secular government? To bring a democratic form of government to Iraq? To install a pro-U.S. dictator? To protect Iraq from terrorism? To rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure? To protect Iraq’s religious minority (who were formerly in charge when Saddam was in control) against the angry, intolerant religious majority? To secure the shipment of oil? To set up Iraqi police and defense forces? To spread democracy throughout the Middle East with Iraq as the starting point? All of the above? None of the above? And when is the job “finished”?

    Is the sacrifice of thousands of our young soldiers worth one, some or all of the above goals? And is our presence there supporting our deterring the accomplishment of our goals?

    I don’t pretend to know all the answers. But I agree with those politicians like Sen. Kerry who say that that we need to set specific benchmarks for troop withdrawal. An Iraqi constitution has been drafted and adopted and the framework for a government has been established. Draw down some troops. Once an effective Iraqi police force has been set up, draw down troops. Etc., etc. I agree with you that just getting up one morning and withdrawing all our troops would probably result in anarchy and civil war, and would be the wrong thing to do. (Not even Rep. Murtha suggested this.)

    This whole unfocused, vague notion of “staying as long as it takes to finish the job” because Americans aren’t quitters, sounds to me like a subterfuge for keeping our troops there indefinitely, maybe to accomplish some goals (read above) that you and others might strongly disagree with. Debate is good. For example, we need to ask hard questions about why an effective Iraqi police force hasn’t been established after all of this time. Questioning the President’s policies is patriotic (especially this president’s black-and-white, simpleminded worldview).

  2. I agree with you 100% David. It’s just that I’m subscribed to two dozen “activist” email lists which commonly state “Bring the Troops Home Now” which I find disturbing. As you stated so eloquently above, we need to set clear goals, one of which is most important to me is the construction of a stable, open, and working democracy in Iraq. In addition, the Iraqi police must be able to enforce the laws themselves, without coalition intervention. Until that is possible, our presence there will be required.

  3. Yeah, I thought we were pretty much on the same page. “Bring all the troops home immediately” is a recipe for utter chaos and religious/ethnic cleansing in Iraq. Likewise “Stay the course ’til the job is done” is too vague a policy to justify keeping our young troops there indefinitely. One final observation: Bush today defined one of his “clear” goals before we can withdraw troops as “defeating the terrorists.” What the heck does that even *mean*? Many people believe that our presence there as an “occupier” with no departure date is actually fostering and inciting terrorism.

    The cynic in me says that in spite of what the president is now saying, we’ll see significant troop withdrawals before the next Congressional election in November 2006–even if *no* goals are accomplished.

    Maybe I should run for office. Vote “Evil” in 2006.

  4. I’d vote for you, E.D.

    Personally, I think “bring the troops home now” is just as simplistic as “stay the course.” Bumper sticker foreign policy is generally not good foreign policy. I do think Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule (“you break it you buy it”) is appropriate. But I’m concerned that our presence in Iraq, rather than being an ameliorative force, is actually part of the problem. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to get truthful analysis of the topic because A)it’s unblievably complex; possibly even chaotic and B) the analysts always have an agenda.

    I don’t honestly know what the correct course of action is, but I do think we can learn a lesson from this fiasco: War is messy and the outcome always uncertain. Use only as a last resort.

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