Wednesday, February 14, 2007

without a spine

I have voted in every election over the past more than 30 years. During that time, I voted for one Republican and one independent. All of the rest of the times, I pulled the Democratic lever or checked the Democratic box. Now it isn't because I agree with everything the Democrats have done or said. It is because I think their policies are much, much, much closer to the ones that Jesus would advocate. And while there have at times been individual candidates - either independent or Republican - who were closer to what I believe, I think the way our party system works, policies are set along party lines and our representatives and Senators tend to vote in party blocks. So I vote Democratic.

These days though, I'm feeling pretty unhappy. During the first six Bush years it felt as if the Dems had no spine as again and again they capitulated to the little dictator's whims. I thought that after this past election, they would grow spines. After all, the people have soundly rejected Bush and his policies especially around the war. The country has needs - healthcare reform, education, housing, immigration, etc. - but none of these issues can be adequately addressed while we're still bogged down in Iraq. So what do the Dems do? They pass a non-binding resolution!?!? Grow some spines! Do what the people elected you to do and bring home our men and women.

Of course, their fear is that they'll be painted as weak and blamed if any "terrorist" incidents take place on US soil. Again, grow some spines. Do what is right and face the future with convictions.

So what to do? What could the plan be? I think Thomas Friedman in his 2/7 op-ed piece in the NY Times had some great analysis. Here's a long quote...

What is the U.S. interest in Iraq right now? It's to quell the civil war enough so the parties may eventually reach a negotiated settlement, and if that proves impossible, to get America out of Iraq with the least damage to our interests.

We will not quell this civil war with a surge of troops alone. The only thing that will do that is a power-sharing, oil-revenue-sharing deal between the parties. The only way we will get serious negotiations going is with leverage that America does not now have: leverage on the parties inside and outside Iraq. Negotiating in the Middle East without leverage is futile. These folks know how to calculate the balance of power down to the last ounce.

So how do we get leverage? The first way to do that is by setting a firm date to leave - Dec. 1. All U.S. military forces are either going to be home for Christmas 2007 or redeployed along the borders of Iraq, away from the civil war.

The Sunnis, who started this whole murderous cycle, participate in the government, negotiate with us and also indulge the suicide bombers and the insurgents. The Shiites collaborate with us, run their own retaliatory death squads and dabble with Iran. The Saudis tell us we can't leave, but their mosques and charities funnel Sunni suicide bombers to Iraq and dollars to insurgents. Iran pushes its Iraqi Shiite allies to grab more power, while helping others kill U.S. troops. Ditto Syria.

O.K., boys, party's over: we're leaving by Dec. 1. From now on, everyone pays retail for their politics. We will no longer play host to a war where we're everyone's protector and target. If you Sunnis want to go on resisting, we'll leave you to the tender mercies of the Shiites, who vastly outnumber you. You Shiites, if you want to run Iraq without compromising with Sunnis, fine, but you'll have to fight them alone and then risk having to live under the thumb of Iran.

You Saudis and other Arabs, if you don't use your influence to delegitimize Sunni suicide bombers and press Iraq's Sunnis to cut a deal, we won't protect you from the consequences. And Iran, you win - yes, if we leave, you win the right to try to manage Iraq's Shiites. Have a nice day.

Today in Iraq, none of the key parties have to make any choices, and we donĂ‚’t have any choices. That is the definition of "stuck." Right now we can win only if all the parties in and around Iraq act in the most farsighted and flexible manner. Otherwise we lose in our attempt to democratize Iraq, and we're left holding the bag. We need to be in a win-win situation that we control.

Dems... grow some spines. Do what you were elected to do. End this fiasco and bring home our young men and women. Then, get about fixing this country's problems.

No comments: