A while back a man was sent on a mission to Iraq. After some maritime delays, he arrived and accomplished his mission, to his own consternation. See, he didn’t want to see his mission accomplished—he wanted to happen what had been guaranteed to happen if he failed. The Iraqi city was Ninevah (near modern-day Mosul), and the man was Jonah.
History repeats itself. The Iraqi government has decided to straighten up and take over more control of their country, including their security. They are currently in the middle of talks with the U.S. to decide the “structure of forces” in Iraq. The U.N. mandate for military action in Iraq expires Dec. 31, and Iraq appears ready to take a bigger role. But the Bush Administration is fighting it.
We should be pumping our fists in the air! The Iraqis feel like it’s time for us to leave or at least significantly lessen our presence. This should be GREAT news! But the Bush Administration is fighting for more time for U.S. troops, more permanence of U.S. military installations, and more influence in the affairs of the country. Ergo . . . the fight is NOT (and in my opinion never was) to liberate the Iraqis.
So what “national interests” are being promoted by our continued presence in Iraq, over the objections of the sovereign government? First is the perceived threat from Iran. But Iran does not threaten the U.S., it threatens Israel. Although I agree with the U.S.’s support of Israel, I think that preparing for war to prevent war is foolish. Bush says he prefers diplomacy, but then refuses to talk to Iran. How does diplomacy happen if no one talks? Iran’s median age is 26 and 70% of the population is under 30. They are materialistic, internet-savvy, and not particularly ideological. I think that within the next two decades Iran will see a revolution, probably soft, toward more openness, and will back down from their belligerent stances because they see no usefulness in them. In the meantime, I think that if the U.S. gathers an extensive coalition to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, the hardliners and their power will go the way of all the earth.
The second “national interest” is oil. Bush, an old oil man, pays lip service to alternative energy sources, but I don’t think he can really envision a world where oil is not paramount. And so we go on trying to solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s thinking and technology. If we had spent as much on alternative energy sources as we have on our illegal activities in Gitmo, the problem would be solved.
Hopefully the next president will have the intestinal fortitude to tell the truth, be honest with the citizenry. Who will do this? Will it be the man who opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2004 as irresponsible, but then changed his mind for the election? Or will it be the man who went into Chicago’s largest black church on father’s day to say that too many men are MIA and AWOL in the lives of their children, shirking their filial responsibilities. Which will have the guts to tell the pro-Israel and pro-oil special interest groups that there are more important issues on the nation’s plate?