Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pick the fight ... finish the fight

Ever since President Bush said this week that American troops would not be pulled out of Iraq before he retires in 2008, I've been troubled by a little schoolyard rule: If you start a fight, you better be ready to finish it.

And today, the Denver Post gave voice to that sentiment in an editorial, "Bush should finish what he started." It said, in part:

"If U.S. troops are still in Iraq in 2009, will a large number of them still be dodging improvised explosive devices, or will a small force be on bases, advising Iraq forces? (Similarly, it's unclear what the president meant last week when he said Iraqi forces would be responsible for 'more territory' than the U.S. by the end of this year.) ... And the president's larger task is to finish what he started - not to leave it to the next president or create more uncertainty for the government and people of Iraq."

Yes, World War II, Korea and Vietnam spanned several administrations, but Bush has not yet convincingly explained the importance of remaining in Iraq for 3 or more years. He hasn't even set out a clear plan for what will happen in his last 2-plus years of his Administration, so it seems imminently unfair for him to hand this thorny problem to the next American president ... who will likely be the candidate who promises the clearest, smartest exit strategy.

Should American troops be pulled without regard to the consequences? No.

Are there reasons they should stay? Probably.

Should the President explain better the need for keeping them at risk? Absolutely.

Will he? The president has shown little inclination to be open about his decision-making, and unfortunately, it's unlikely he's going to start now.

12 comments:

Michael Gillespie said...

But Ron, at least President Bush is once again taking questions from Helen Thomas, the accomplished and unflappable dean of the White House Press Corps. For months he'd been ignoring Helen. Now he is recognizing her and taking a polite and respectful tone in his replies to her often pointed and difficult questions. Of course, this change in the president's style may be on the advice of his political advisors and purely the result of political considerations having to do with a desperate desire to get his abysmal poll numbers up. But, just imagine for a moment what it would mean for the country to witness the outward manifestations of a genuine "turning of the heart" in this president at this moment in history! Ah, hope (even patently unrealistic hope) springs eternal. And why not, if the alternative to a new and different foreign and "defense" policy is the well-nigh catastrophic interruption of human progress, which may well be the case. With this president and this administration you really have to search diligently for any sort of signal about which to be optimistic. But why not give the man the benefit of even the slimmest of doubts?

HAMLET: God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

--Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, Act II Scene II, by William Shakespeare

Love, Rita said...

The premise for American involvement in this war was a search for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD's). Because none were found, the blame was shifted from where it belonged--squarely on the shoulders of the President--to "faulty intelligence". But since the U.S. soldiers were there ANYWAY, a decision was made to just go ahead and take out Saddam Hussein. Which probably needed to be done. But I think that's as far as it should have gone. We can't force them to be democratic--they've been fighting amongst themselves for CENTURIES!!

The war was a lie. And I feel like the heart of the matter is whether we can keep a government WE approve of in power there, so as not to disrupt the precious flow of oil.

Have you seen the "Freeway Blogger"?

SingingSkies said...

I was adamantly against the war before it started and still am. There has got to be a better way to resolve such issues. (Hmmmmm...maybe a Department of Peace with an academy like the military academies and a term of service in international peacemaking. Sorry...I digress.)

There is a part of me which would like to yank all of our troops home right now. However, it seems we are now currently entwined in the lives of the Iraqi people and we need to stay to finish what was started. Since our actions have led to much destruction of the political and physical infrastructure, it seems only right that we remain and aid with the rebuilding.

Unfortunately, I don't believe this particular president will be the one to finish the task. Any time someone with experience and expertise in the region has expressed an opinion which contradicts the administration's prejudices regarding the needs of the area, that person has soon been relieved of their position and someone else with lesser experience but more congruence with the administration's position has taken over the responsibilities. This way lay dragons. And an unfinished war at the end of Bush's term. *sigh*

Will there be any light on the process? I think you've pegged that one. The main reason for what light we've recently gotten is the low rating numbers. Once those go up (if they do), the lightbulb will be unscrewed and we'll be in the dark again.

Chancelucky said...

Ron,
I admire the way you managed to express concisely what many of us think but don't quite manage to express in a way that's understandable to anyone who happens to disagree with us.


It occurs to me that the withdrawal question is a bit like when to get a divorce from a bad marriage that happens to have kids. No one seriously thinks that the marriage can or will work the way it's supposed to, though the administration claims otherwise.

The really hard question is that if you make the decision to stay in for the sake of the kids, then how do you do that in a way that actually leaves them better off?

There are many situations where the parents might as well just split up even when it's not good for the kids, because the alternative of staying is even worse.

We have to figure out which it is and what we can realistically do.

Robert F. said...

Bush can't withdraw, so soldiers will continue to die. Only the next President make that decision and not lose face. The math looks something like this. Bush's Pride = 200 Billion more dollars + 2000 more American lives + all the collateral damage that those who have lived through this travesty will feel the rest of their lives.
The obscene politics of this are repugnant.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Boy, you guys are sure optimistic and adventurous - not. Maybe this blog doesn't belong on my blogroll?

Ron Franscell said...

Aw, don't punt Under The News, Patrick! I promise to work on the optimism and adventure ... oh look, I wrote about a hair salon for men where the stylists wear bikinis! That sounds adventurous!

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I just read that, Ron. Now if only we could get some of those Mohammedanazis going there for a haircut and having some good old decadent American fun for a change. Perhaps we can get them to cut hair instead of heads.

Ron Franscell said...

I'm pretty sure if a Muslim has that much fun, the Q'ran requires him to behead himself.

Robert F. said...

Point taken Conlon. I see a new ad campaign for the National Guard.
"Go to Iraq, the optimistic adventure!"

Bushwack said...

Well there are some typical Lib responses to the War in Iraq, The bottom line is we are at war now. Agree or disagree, Americans are dying in a fight the President warned would be a long one. These people probably believe George Bush attacked America on Sept 11th, Short sighted people feel if something takes to long or is to hard it shouldn't be tried.
Bush lied so leave a void in the middle east and let the islamic radicals kill every man woman and child that helped in the war. Good plan dems. Way to look out for the human race.....

Anonymous said...

It is funny how "proud Republicans" like Bushwack here, quickly turn to building strawmen whenever the unfortunate reality of our incompetent president is put on display.

Confronted with these facts, the proud W supporter resorts to sayings things like, "... they probably think George Bush attacked American on Sept. 11th." (Here's a little refresher: no one thinks that, and anyone with half a brain knows that, aside from Cheney's and Bush's assertions, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.)

Here's some light, Bushwack; the length of the invasion and "staying the course" has nothing to do with our rational oposition. Instead, it is the amount of sacrifice and investment that is required to achieve a mislead and ill-prepared for goal. But, I'm sure you just enjoy watching us flex our muscle, bombs drop, sparks fly, and any French obsenity that can be conjured.

Finally, at the current time it isn't the repsonsibility of Democrats to create an exit strategy. We have a republican president, republican House and republican Senate. All bad deeds over the last 6 years for which our country must now live with were created and implemented by republicans. It is time for those republicans, and their supporters, to take some responsibility.