28 March, 2008

The tragic imperative of Iraq

I've heard it said fairly often recently that whether you are for or against further occupation of Iraq, the one thing the American people can't afford to be is disengaged from the conflict. Whether or not we like it, the rest of our policy is now tied to Iraq; solutions to critical problems such as health care and climate change depend in a very real sense on how we deal with our that occupation in the next year or two. And in a moral sense, we cannot forget or take for granted the sacrifice of the soldiers who are now bearing nearly the entire burden of a failed policy.

Recent discussions with my several pro-occupation friends have underscored both the amount of basic misunderstanding and confusion as well as, as a corollary, the importance of us as democratic citizens to stay as informed as possible. That is the tragic imperative of this occupation: we must come to grips with a terrible situation, and try to discern wisdom out of a deliberate campaign of misinformation and false choices -- and understand that, even if we do our best, we may be at least partially responsible for the immense suffering the possibility of which any option carries with it. What is the correct way forward? Thinking more than ever about this recently, I find there is no easy answer. And I find, further, that I think it is that moral weight of decision, rather than the complexity of the issues themselves, that leads citizens of our democracy to shunt their responsibility.

As we move into what I am hoping will be a true national discussion on the options facing us in Iraq, I want to direct everyone to Juan Cole, a Middle East expert whose blog will reward regular reading with a much more informed view on the conflict we have unleashed.


spencer said...

Samantha Power also has informed and nuanced liberal views about what to do in Iraq. It's a shame she had to leave the Obama campaign, but I suspect she will be back.

Elliot said...

Yeah, she is extremely well respected in foreign policy circles - I hope she'll be back. If not, its a senseless waste.

Also Brezinzski (who backs Obama, but doesn't advise him as far as I know) out of the sort of liberal hawk tradition is often very good.

Spencer Ackerman just wrote a big article on Obama's foreign policy team, I'm going to try to post on it soon.