Sunday, September 24, 2006

How to bring the troops home from Iraq

Like most Americans, I’ve been thinking a lot about the conflict in Iraq. Like you, I’ve been listening to the politicians in Washington, and I keep hearing things like “we lied our way into Iraq”, “cut and run”, “appeasers”, “Defeatocrats” etc. The main goal seems to be to find the most over-the-top adjectives to demonize the other side.

Meanwhile, the sacred blood of our heroes in uniform continues to spill into the sand of an alien desert, in a conflict that appears to get worse every week.

Have we no shame? Partisanship is bad enough when it concerns the economy or immigration, but when our soldiers continue to die while we sit and argue, we are treading on treacherous moral ground.

America is sick of the partisan sniping. Our leaders need to summon the courage to admit their individual mistakes and forgive the mistakes of others. We need a non-partisan, American plan to conclude this conflict and get our sons and daughters out of that hostile land, rather than wrangling over whose narrowly focused partisan idea is best. If I were President Bush, here’s how I’d do it.

First, Donald Rumsfeld has got to go. Even supporters of the war have lost faith in him. Most importantly, our troops have lost faith in him. Even a cursory study of the history of the war demonstrates that the breathtaking hubris and incompetence of our civilian military leadership to be the cause of this conflict turning into a quagmire. Rumsfeld has not served his President well. More importantly, he has shown himself to be too stubborn to be trusted with the task of charting a new direction. He has systematically ignored the advice of his military commanders and wise, experienced leaders such as Anthony Zinni, Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft.

I would replace Rumsfeld with the one man who is universally admired and trusted by leaders across the political spectrum and around the world: General Colin Powell. No one has more knowledge than he about fighting in that part of the world. Events have shown his insights to be the correct ones.

Next, Powell must be given complete, unhindered freedom to accomplish the following task: gather a team of America’s most skilled leaders, together with leaders of Iraq and our allies, and after a complete and non-partisan examination of the facts and options, create a plan to bring the Iraq War to a conclusion.

The most important members of this team would be the military officers in Iraq who have proven ability and demonstrated success, such as Army General David Petraeus and Marine General James Mattis. Congressional experts in military affairs from both sides of the aisle must be given equal seats at the table. And we need wise, senior statesmen like Brent Scowcroft and Madeleine Albright involved. Every success and failure must be studied frankly and without rancor. Once all the data is understood, and given the skills of the team members, I’m confident the best solution will be self-evident, with just the details to work out. And it must happen fast – we can’t afford to wait for months for this team to do their job.

President Bush is the only one who could make this happen. It would take a great deal of courage on his part, because he would have to finally admit that our current policy is a dead end. However, great leaders take responsibility for their actions, and they have the humility to change course when events require it. President Reagan demonstrated such leadership and courage during the Iran-Contra affair. What if the Founding Fathers who were sent by their respective states to fix the Articles of Confederation had insisted on “staying the course”? If these men had not courageously recognized that a completely new direction was required to save the nation, our sacred Constitution would have never been written.

It remains to be seen if our President has the same qualities of leadership and courage.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger derekstaff said...

What good would it be to get rid of Rumsfeld when Rumsfeld has only been doing exactly what Bush wants him to do? Bush would only replace him with someone else that would follow the same flawed policies in which Bush believes.

I agree that we should be willing to forgive mistakes. But deliberately drawing the nation into an unnecessary and unjustified war under false pretenses is more than a mistake. Trying to justify torture is more than a mistake. Seeking to expand presidential power at the expense of civil rights is more than a mistake. Those are threats to peace, liberty, and the nation's moral character. We simply cannot kiss and make up while those threats are still present.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

The problem is you can't replace Bush this November. Changes in the House and senate could pressure Bush to make changes internally however, and I think Steve's idea to bring in someone with experience, like Powell, is a great idea.


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