Sunday, February 04, 2007

A dangerous and destructive legacy

So what will we leave behind?

Years ago, a cousin of mine, PhD in Economics, presented the theory that the aim of the neo-cons in Washington was to bankrupt the U.S. government, thus destroying its abilities to support domestic programs, while enriching the military-industrial complex.

Destroyer in Chief yesterday announced his plans to vociferously argue for a shift in priorities for the U.S. budget, austerity at home, and billions upon billions of dollars for war. Defense spending they call it. It's not defense (though certainly some of it may be). Let's call it what it is: "military expenditures".

And what is the response from those we intend to fight? The Taliban promise a surge of their own, a spring offensive of suicide bombings in Afghanistan. And what of Iraq? A U.S. general on the ground warns that their last ditch effort to secure Bagdhad with American human sandbags will take time. Indeed!

Such a legacy to leave behind. Endless War with a Hydra, now that is pure genius! I've learned in raising my children that it's important to connect the correcting behaviors I engage in with an intended end result. Merely bashing at loggerheads results in continued escalation with no end in sight. What is our intention in fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq? Because unless we know that, we have no way of heading towards it.

Put another way, you can't defeat hatred and violence if what you have to offer in return is only more hatred and violence. It's like fighting yeast with sugar, or drought with salt.

I do not defend the fanatics who would encourage suicide bombings, or worse engage in them. They are barbarians. No way to slice it that makes killing one's own, and killing others a prosperous enterprise. But what are we offering in return?

Why not redeploy our U.S. combat troops in Iraq mostly to secure the borders. No one in or out of Iraq, until the violence, the daily suicide bombings, the utter destruction, subsides. Because, while Iraq may continue in unabated chaos, the greater fear at the moment is that a rapid withdrawal by the U.S. would result in a far more effective breeding ground for exporting terrorists around the world. Why not also put our full commitment behind infrastructure building. Isn't that why we have an Army Corps of Engineers? $100 billion more? For what. Damn it, there are ways to spend money that actually bring positive results.

The issue is this: the lack of foresight and planning on the part of the Bush administration in entering Iraq, overthrowing the government, with considering any of the previous work that had studied the likely consequences, and preparing for what might follow, has resulted in unprecedented chaos. But the past is the past. It's the future that we must create. We can not simply exit, because we are in large part responsible for the mess. It may not in fact be truly salvageable at this point. We need to face that. But we need to do what we can to work toward an end result. Where are we heading?

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