Friday, December 02, 2005

Explaining the Debate on Iraq

The debate on the war in Iraq is simple to explain. Why do our professional warriors insist that the war can be won? Because it is their job to believe they can win. They want to win. They demand to win. They would insist on victory even if (especially if) they were fighting an unbeatable enemy on the streets of Washington, D.C. Any war strategy based on asking the military whether they think they can win is doomed to failure.

That is yet another reason why an enlightened country should actively avoid war, and yet fight any it is forced into to the death. Unfortunately, we were not forced into this war; we sought it and are now paying the price, much as we paid the price for the ridiculously aggressive Spanish-American War or the ill-conceived Vietnam War.

How many times must we be told that causing and then fighting a serious insurgency is a bad idea? History tells us that, as do the current insurgencies around the world. Not one of them is being truly won. At best, they fall into an uncomfortable pseudo peace, for a while.

Better to lead in a way that others will follow, as Congressman Ron Paul said in 2002 - and complained that he was being attacked as a terrorist sympathizer for following the foreign policy ideals of America's founding fathers. We lead the world when we are better than our enemies, not when we engage in torture, plant propaganda in the foreign press and otherwise act as ignorant and ill-behaved as they are.

To make matters right, we must lead morally. Only then will the world follow.

I believe that America is acting in inappropriate ways for the simple reason that we all want to, sometimes. It is a normal emotional response in our leaders to lash out at what we do not understand and to do so with force. The only thing that prevents that overreaction is the calming action of the balance of governmental powers. The only way to save America from itself is to restore the limitations once imposed on the executive branch by policy. A new check on the Administration's ability to wield military power, unreliant on policy, is needed.

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