Thursday, June 30, 2005

Assessing The Iraq War/War on Terror Debate

Thanks to all who participated in our debate series covering the War in Iraq and the War on Terror. I hope, if nothing else, everyone came away with a greater understanding of the convictions and arguments of those with whom they disagree. I, for one, learned a lot.

I learned that the vast majority of Iraq opponents supported Afghanistan and, in fact, support military action as one facet of the War on Terrorism. What those who object to this war disagree with is the Bush administration’s claim that this is a war that had to be fought. Those that oppose the war simply and I think reasonably disagree that our greater interests have been advanced by toppling Saddam.

But I also learned that those who support this war have multiple, rational reasons for doing so. Most supporters sincerely believe liberating the Iraqis was a noble cause. Many note that Iraq was worse under Saddam and was also a time bomb. Sooner or later, they argue, Saddam was going to use his wealth and influence to attack us in some form or another. Better to invade now and not wait—particularly given the fact that all intelligence pointed to Saddam possessing WMD.

I also learned that people can talk about this war without getting blindingly angry. The vast number of comments were sensible and devoid of personal attacks. But I wonder if any minds were changed. I certainly learned new facts and new ideas, but I’m still pretty much where I was before.

And where I am is in neither camp. For one, I don’t think Bush lied. But I do think there was a certain level of incompetence throughout the administration in the lead up and initial execution of the war. They seemed too willing to believe the worst about Iraq and yet too willing to believe the best about our chances at a quick and decisive victory. And I think they too easily rejected the Powell Doctrine.

But here’s the thing: I’m not a military expert. And nor are the vast number of Americans. We can only make educated guesses and 20/20 hindsight criticisms. I am willing to give our leaders the benefit of the doubt. I am also willing to listen intently to the critiques from men like Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) who has been to Iraq repeatedly and met with our commanders there often. But I acknowledge that I can’t, from the comfort of my home, truly assess how this war is going and whether or not our leaders have been incompetent or if the mistakes have been acceptable considering all the unknowables of war.

What I do know is the President was reelected. Some say his support was based on lies he told but, again, I just don’t attribute to malice what I can attribute to incompetence. And most Americans stated with their vote that this President was competent enough to continue holding the job. That’s enough for me. Kerry lost. It’s time for the opposition to become the loyal opposition once more. Criticism is vital but divisiveness is not.

Thanks again to all those who participated in this debate series. I have learned that I cannot comment on this war without someone viciously calling me names and questioning my sanity. But I refuse to think we can’t talk about this. We have to talk about this. And our differences on this simply cannot be reason to hate each other. All of you who participated seemed to do so in the spirit that we are one nation. I, for one, appreciate that and think if more could act this way, more progress could be made.

3 Comments:

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Adm. Happy Horatio Hornhonker said...

Hey Alan:

Take note: I'm just the messenger here on this one.

Please inform any all detractors to vent their bile and displeasure at the results and those at Zogby.com and not me...

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Impeachment Question Shows Bitterness of Divide


--snippet--

In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment. While half (50%) of respondents do not hold this view, supporters of impeachment outweigh opponents in some parts of the country.

Among those living in the Western states, a 52% majority favors Congress using the impeachment mechanism while just 41% are opposed; in Eastern states, 49% are in favor and 45% opposed. In the South, meanwhile, impeachment is opposed by three-in-five voters (60%) and supported by just one-in-three (34%); in the Central/Great Lakes region, 52% are opposed and 38% in favor.

Impeachment is overwhelmingly rejected in the Red States—just 36% say they agree Congress should use it if the President is found to have lied on Iraq, while 55% reject this view; in the “Blue States” that voted for Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry in 2004, meanwhile, a plurality of 48% favors such proceedings while 45% are opposed.

A large majority of Democrats (59%) say they agree that the President should be impeached if he lied about Iraq, while just three-in-ten (30%) disagree. Among President Bush’s fellow Republicans, a full one-in-four (25%) indicate they would favor impeaching the President under these circumstances, while seven-in-ten (70%) do not. Independents are more closely divided, with 43% favoring impeachment and 49% opposed.

--end snippet--

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BTW -- at that same link the Zogby News starts with:

President Bush’s televised address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%...

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In closing: Whether I like it or not – or whether anyone else likes this or not – it does not bode well for the President’s future agenda.



Jonah D. Wail
yo-Ho Yo-HO a Sailor's Life for Me
.

 
At 4:08 AM, Blogger Ted Carmichael said...

Well said, Alan. And thanks for creating a place where reasonable people can disagree. I can't tell you how sick I am of uninformed flame-wars and partisan bickering in other forums. I find - refreshingly - very little of that here.

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

I too enjoyed the debate series you put on Alan. Thanks for taking the time to do so. Maybe you’ll try to do it again on some other topic like-- “Judges” or something!!! Anyway- Thanks again…………

 

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