S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Now who decides about Iraq?

Will it be us or the Iraqis or both? Today's post is very difficult because the blogosphere will be clogged with opinion about the rollout of the Iraq Study Group report; mine is but one more. A sampling of other blog opinion follows: Robert Weissman at The Huffington Post suggests that the U.S. withdraws from Iraq. Suzanne Nossel has hope for the report and does an initial analysis of some of the recommendations that is very thorough. At the other end of the opinion spectrum Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction is that the Iraq Study Group report has limitations and is overblown.

Bloggers' opinions matter but the key to the question of who decides what is next for Iraq is Iraq. Theoretically, the people are in charge, just as they are in the United States. That is how democracy is supposed to work. But is that the actual case?

Will the decider be the Commander in Chief of the military, ours and/or theirs? At South by Southwest I asked yesterday, "Who is in the lead?" It was a post about the men at the top and how they lead.

My question is, can The People make their inept leaders re-decide after the disaster? Sheryl Gay Stolberg has written an analysis for the New York Times that closely parallels some of my impressions as I watched the story of the release of the Iraq Study Group report unfold on television yesterday. Headlined, "Will it work in the Whitehouse?" the author asks my question. Stolberg begins,

In 142 stark pages, the Iraq Study Group report makes an impassioned plea for bipartisan consensus on the most divisive foreign policy issue of this generation. Without President Bush, that (consensus) cannot happen.

Will November's election results translate as a demand from The People for a different decision by our current president (OCP)? After all, OCP commands the military of this our democracy, and OCP sent our military to seed democracy in Iraq. Can this bipartisan group of wise elders speak for us? Will the report be a reflection in the mind of OCP of the very large scale dissatisfaction the people of this democratic United States? David Sanger's article in the New York Times was headlined, "Panel Urges Basic Shift in U.S. Policy in Iraq." Hat tip to The Huffington Post, who headlined his article: "Blistering Rebuke of Bush/Cheney." Sanger characterized the Iraq Study Group's report as having "unusually seeeping and blunt language."

In the next few weeks and months the people of both countries will decide how they feel about their leaders' decisions about the war. And opinion makers will influence the course of events in Washington and Baghdad. Consequences will flow from the events precipitated by leaders' decisions. Time is not on our side. A blogger wisely counsels those of us who worry about current affairs, however, to try to also think about the consequences of what we favor as next best steps. Chris Weigant at The Huffington Post began a series of articles today about the Iraq endgame

Almost without exception, the focus is on "what should we do about Iraq?" But in this frenzy of opinionating, the aftermath is being largely overlooked. This needs to change.
. . . Please do not misconstrue the purpose of this series, however. I am not advocating one policy over another. There is a wide spectrum of opinion on when and how US troops should leave Iraq, from "yesterday" at one end of the scale, to "stay the course forever" at the other. I am not staking out a position of my own on that scale. I am merely attempting to convince everyone talking about the issue to be intellectually honest and include a discussion about the likely consequences of their position. Arguing for or against the various policy ideas (cutting off funding, timetables, phased withdrawals, pullbacks to permanent bases in Iraq, pullbacks to the border, pullbacks to "over the horizon," Rumsfeld's words of wisdom on the subject, etc.) without addressing the consequences of such policies is unrealistic and irresponsible. Make your arguments for one policy over another, in other words, but in doing so please consider the endgame as well.

Pearl Harbor Day - Seven of Eight reminds me that today, December 7, is the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and adds the following words to conclude this post:
Today on Dec. 7 thousands of people here and in Japan will remember the attack on Pearl Harbor. How did this happen?
In my opinion the Japanese people were victims of poor leadership at the top, and a handful of Japanese military commanders, anxious to play with their toys and exercise theri"wartime" skills. The results were horrible. Thousands of Americans and Japanese paid the ultimate price throughout the war that culminated in the atomic bomb.
Today Japan is a strong ally. People move freely between our countries, sharing technology, goods, education - you name it. The attack by Japan on Dec. 7 did not reflect the thinking or will of all the Japanese people, but simply a very few. It is a lesson to be learned. Incompetent leadership for any country comes at a high price.

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