“The latest NIE on Iraq reinforces what we've known for a long time: Despite our troops’ sacrifice, Iraqi politicians are not taking the necessary steps to achieve national reconciliation, and only political progress can build a sustainable security in Iraq.”
I got this quote from a recent statement by his campaign sent to me in an email today, but it's a mantra he's been saying for months now: while our troops are fighting valiantly, the Iraqi people aren't doing their job. Their government isn't stepping up. Basically, Kerry's deduction is that it's Iraq's fault things are screwed up in that country, not America's, and they don't deserve our continued presence and sacrifice there.
Maybe Kerry is afraid of being smeared as blaming it on the troops, but he shouldn't worry so much: it certainly isn't our troops' fault; we lost this war well before they ever got there. No, the current status in Iraq is Neoconservative America's fault. It's the fault of everyone who voted for our current monster of a President. Most of all, we can lay the blame on an (a)pathetic media, Dick Cheney, President Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Joe Lieberman, Republican lapdogs in Congress, Democratic lapdogs in Congress, Karl Rove and every other Turd Blossom in and around the administration who helped
Now, what Senator Kerry said is somewhat true: the Iraqi government isn't stepping up. They aren't doing their job. However, we've done everything in our power to set them up for failure. We:
- Dismantled the Baathists who were the only ones experienced in running Iraq.
- Sent home the Iraqi military after deposing Hussein, effectively firing a well armed and trained group of young, poor - and now angry - men.
- Bombed their infrastructure.
- Invited insurgents from across Iraq and the world to be there by invading an Arab country without just cause.
- Set up conditions where the population is fleeing, dying and starving.
What do we expect of a country that we just recently blew up to smithereens? Jeffersonian Democracy in six months? Hell, the U.S. Constitution wasn't signed until 1787 - 11 years after Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, the founders didn't have guerrilla warfare to contend with; we were the insurgency. And our insurgency went home after major combat ended at Yorktown. Not to mention, our saviors - the dreaded French - left after they helped depose us from 1775's King George. Imagine what would have happened if the French "helped" and stayed for years? Our insurgency would have continued well past Yorktown. So, yes, it may be humanly possible for the Iraqi government to do more, but lots of things are possible that have yet to come true - even when bombs aren't getting in the way of the path toward accomplishment.
So, Senator Kerry is wrong: it isn't Iraq's fault. But, he's still right, right? He's still calling for us to get out of Iraq, after all. If only that were enough. Sometimes it may not matter how a politician comes to a position so long as he or she gets there, but Iraq isn't one of those occasions. Arguing to get out of Iraq alone isn't going to solve the problem, not when the Iraqi people are being vilified in the process. Saying it's Iraq's fault only continues to set that country up for failure, ignoring the actual problems Iraq faces.
Furthermore, even if the American people buy that message and leave Iraq for those reasons, we'll only serve to further hinder that country's reconstruction, after their civil war is over, through a new-found ignorance. If Iraqis are the evil terrorists Republicans paint them as and the incompetent, greedy and violent neanderthals Democratic leaders seem to be implying, Iraqis will never get the help they need from an American public that owes a great debt to that country. We can't help Iraqis militarily, that only serves to stir up the insurgency, but we can aid and support them in other ways (the ways their populace wants, like food) - but only if our politicians ultimately fail in painting them with villainous strokes. If Iraqis are the villains, Iraqi citizens will get about as much support as we're giving to innocent civilians in the Gaza strip right now.
Senator Kerry is sensible and understands that the process of leaving Iraq will take a long time. He says, during that time span, we need to be doing the diplomacy the Bush administration hasn't done. Certainly, Kerry is right all the way there. But, why do we need to send our troops home? Because the Iraqi government just won't do their jobs until they understand we're leaving, according to Kerry. Maybe he's right, but his opinion is far from conclusive. Even if the Iraqi parliament is petty and incompetent, surely they already understand America won't be there forever and that things can't continue in Iraq as they are now. Furthermore, the Iraqi parliament as a whole is not responsible - and cannot stop - the insurgency that targets America today. Primarily blaming the Iraqi government is insulting to the Iraqi people. Instead of blaming Iraq, here's what Senator Kerry should be arguing for instead:
- We need to start leaving now, because it takes months to safely pull out over 160,000 Americans.
- Iraq - and only Iraq - has the right and ability to decide the fate of their country.
If he does those two things, he'll show that he's not only right on Iraq, but he's a voice of clarity that is capable of truly leading on this issue. He'll be a voice that won't hurt Iraq - or America - down the road. He'll be a voice we desperately need in D.C. today.