I keep thinking I should have an opinion on what to
do about the war in Iraq.
The whole point of democracy is that ordinary voters are smart enough to
grasp the issues, and can use their knowledge to make decisions
regarding the candidates who will best represent their point of view.
We are told by some analysts that the reason voters elected a Democratic
Congress was the war in Iraq. However, I can't help but notice that most
Democrats in Congress don't seem to know what to do about it. Neither do
most Republicans. But this is no excuse for Citizen Me not to have a
solution. Here goes:
It makes more sense that the major issue for the new presidential
campaign is the war in Iraq. We need a president with the conviction of
George Bush, plus an ability to explain it and carry it out better. No
new president, of course, will be able to explain anything to the
partisans who, even if national security is at stake, must hate and
vilify the president from the other party.
As an independent voter, I'm open to a new president from any party who
responds to the few things I think I've figured out about our Mideast
1.) Most Americans agreed with the majority of Washington's politicians
-- including those who are now insisting that they were "fooled" -- that
it was necessary to go to war in the first place because Iraq might have
weapons of mass destruction.
Since we ordinary citizens had to count on our elected representatives
to not be "fooled," I don't think we should elect any of these fools our
next president. I'll consider those who made an honorable decision based
on the only intelligence that was available at the time. I think it must
be hard to get good intelligence in closed societies like Iraq, Iran and
Syria. And I can easily imagine our regret if the intelligence was
right, and we did not respond to it.
Most of us celebrated the quick early win in Iraq with its few American
casualties, enjoyed the sight of Iraqis pulling down the statue of
Saddam Hussein, and rejoiced in their purple fingers as they too enjoyed
democracy. Few of us were listening to those who warned of getting
bogged down in a possible civil war.
Looking back at what we've now had to learn about the tribal culture in
that part of the world, the present state of affairs does seem
predictable. I recall that our military was eager to reach Baghdad
before the terrible Iraqi summer set in; but maybe we should have waited
until fall to read up on some history and weigh the various risks.
2.) I also think we should have waited to get the best equipment and
support services for our troops there first. My first doubts came with
their requests that their families send them everything from Handi-Wipes
to body armor! I know for a fact that our heroic volunteer military
should have the best that money can buy.
3.) I'm not influenced by the religious arguments that permeate the
region. Just as I don't believe that Allah wants young men to blow
themselves up in order to enjoy numerous virgins in Paradise, I don't
believe that God has planned this conflict as the beginning of the
biblical Armageddon. I'm not convinced that God Himself gave Israel to
the Jews, either. Maybe the United Nations should have rejected that
argument in 1947 and given them Germany instead.
Turkey picked the wrong side in World War I, so when the British won
Palestine they were able to offer it to whomever they wanted. There is
still controversy over commitments made by the British in return for
Arab help. So though the United States must assure Israel's continued
existence, it seems right to find a fair solution to the Palestinian
It also seems that Israel has been trying harder than the Arabs to make
this happen, even at risk to itself.
4.) I don't think we went to war for Haliburton; there are nicer, safer
places to do construction projects. But our dependence on foreign oil
cannot be a good thing. Everyone who blames this for the war should be
living in a small apartment, taking public transportation or driving a
very small car, setting an example for the rest of us.
Considering the above, I face this reality: We did go to war, we saved
Iraqis from a sadistic dictator, and we can't abandon those who helped
us who risk a horrible fate if either Saddam's supporters or the fanatic
fundamentalist Muslims take over.
So here is the best solution this ordinary citizen can propose: Since we
are stuck with this fight, we should pull in our military from the rest
of the world's trouble spots (except for the Taiwan Strait because of
another long-standing U.S. promise) and let other nations take over our
role in Asia, Africa and the Balkans while we focus on making a viable
democracy in Iraq. We should all pull together as Americans to get the
Middle East job done.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.