Published on Friday, May 21, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
by Dan Carol
So how can I not write about the mess in Iraq?
Where shall we begin? With beheadings? Or the newspaper headlines like "U.S. Strikes Mosque" that quickly follow? Yikes. This is not good. We already have both sides saying openly - openly! -- that "God's will" compels their cause.
Brothers and sisters, I'm afraid we're looking at New Crusades material here. Welcome to a new chapter in a thousand year cycle of violence - a history I sure don't know chapter and verse about without first a skim read of The Idiot's Guide to the Crusades.
It all makes me want to cry - except I am too busy fighting my anger.
Those fools in the White House - that is exactly what they are, fools -- have dropped a huge damn boulder in the pond of history. For what? Oil? A "surgical" chess experiment in geo-diplomacy (remember when they thought we'd just zip into Syria right after Iraq!).
Fools! Bush and his fools & liars sat at their war table and Colin Powell bit his lip. They were fools and by the way we're still in Afghanistan, do you think they even think about that? Do the fools goddamn remember we are still in freakin' Afghanistan? Hello, is anyone home? Those poor kids over there deserve better.
So what next besides being angry?
I reflect upon the smartest thing I have heard about what this election means, and I heard it months ago.
It was attributed to George Soros and paraphrased it goes like this: If America re-elects Bush, the world will come to see the war in Iraq not simply as Bush's War, but as America's War.
If healing is to begin at all, this chapter - Bush's War - must end.
Beyond that, it isn't clear to me what we need to do. I am not a pacifist -- and neither are the terrorists who hate us. If we leave, they still hate us. They'll still attack. Bush and his fools disturbed a hornet's nest in Iraq we could have left alone. Now we'd better expect to get stung.
So I take exception with anyone on the left that wants to test Kerry on his future war stance via timelines and specifics, who stays mad at Kerry for his war vote for another day, or asserts they have "the answer" to the mess we are in. Brothers and sisters, nobody can read the water now. There's too much blood in it.
In short, we need to lighten up on Kerry. Duh, of course, he isn't the answer to our prayers, we're all past Clinton '92 puppy love aren't we? As Arianna Huffington nicely puts it: "We've got to put out the fire before we start remodeling and fixing the house". Kerry is our firefighter. That's enough. Even if that's all we ever get from him.
It was tragic and stupid to invade Iraq but I don't see a slam dunk strategy lying around. So smacking Kerry around for not having "an answer" to this unbelievable mess is just harsh. Yet that's what folks are starting to do.
Robert Scheer, writing in Alternet, recently offered this:
"Today, however, Kerry seems unable to admit that the war he voted to authorize in Iraq has been such a disaster, arguing only that we must "stay the course." To have a real choice in this election, we need to hear the voice of that young Navy hero who once warned us that murderous meddling in other countries' affairs will never win the hearts and minds of the people."
Do we really need to hear that voice before the election? I don't. I just need a little bit of vision, a dash of hope and some smart-sounding ideas that point us in the right direction for building global tolerance in a rising era of hatred - not a just-add-water solution that doesn't exist.
Is a call for a smarter war on terrorism and finishing the job in Afghanistan good enough? Is a JFK-style call upon the American can-do spirit for a Manhattan/Apollo-style project to reduce US oil dependence and create new US jobs plenty? Well, it is for me -- and I'd wager -- the average voter we need to win over.
Short of troop withdrawals, can progressive forces get a commitment from Kerry for specific and MASSIVE investments in girls' education in Afghanistan? Can we add a healthy dash of smart Kucinich policies that would put the UN - and not Halliburton - in charge of Iraqi assets and contracts? Good stuff. We should definitely petition Kerry to take these steps.
But if he doesn't inch our way, don't get mad at him. Get even later. Whatever disappoints, just mark down it down on that progressive "to-do list" we'll be working on starting November 3rd, come rain or come shine. But the day before, we need to get it right -- or the world will think this was America's War.