Sunday, December 11, 2005

Rebels With A Cause

I just saw the move Syriana. This movie lays out the middle east situation as Traffic did the drug situation. Both written by Stephen Gaghan, they each present the intractability of a complex set of problems.

By a strange twist of fate, I also happen to be reading 1776 by David McCullough. For those in the USA, I needn't explain the significance of that date, nor that the book portrays a story of a band of rebels who used any means at their disposal to attack and expel an occupying military force.

And so I started thinking about Iraq. And about the rebels. And the occupying military force. And I got really uncomfortable.

Why? Because I think terrorists are scum of the earth, animals of destruction who by their actions against civilians abrogate any "inalienable rights" a human may have. And while I know some of the "Iraqi insurgents" are of this ilk, it also occurs to me that some may be of the "rebel" persuasion - nationals fighting against an occupying military force to regain the right of self-representation and self-determination.

Some of these rebels may believe that they cannot be fairly represented in a democratization process heavily influenced (if not controlled) by that occupying power. Some of these rebels may believe that the occupiers are not protecting them from the terrorists themselves, or from crime lords and local militia leaders. Some of these may have seen their families accidentally killed, or had relatives falsely imprisoned, tortured, and killed (not necessarily by the U.S., Abu Graihb style - but by the current Iraqi administration placed into power and supported by the U.S.).

They may believe that they need to take up arms to protect themselves and to regain their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And it really disturbs me to think that, while the scum who kill civilians are terrorist animals, the enemy combatants who attack and kill our own service men may be the patriots with a cause.

What a bloody mess.

Get Out of Dodge

I agree with Congressman Murtha. There is not a military solution to Iraq. It is time to start an orderly, but rapid, draw down of troops from Iraq. Our service members are targets of everyone - terrorists and patriots alike. It is our responsbility to our own people to get them out of harms way.

We cannot impose democracy at the end of a gun barrel. Whether or not Iraq adopts a western style democracy is up to them, not us. They may not be ready for such a government - their citizens certainly haven't had the years of education and rule of law such a government requires. I frankly doubt their culture and history provide the necessary soil for the growth of our form of government. But it is up to them, not us. What possible business do we have there?

Only one business, really. Oil. As Syriana alluded, about the only real reason to keep troops there is to ensure that we control access to oil resources, by ensuring weak, corrupt governments and chaos continue in the middle east.

But whether you buy this premise or not, it is hard to make a coherent, moral argument for why 2,000 American troops or 30,000 Iraqi civilians need to die, and even harder to justify why this tragedy should continue. "Stay the course" is meaningless, when your course doesn't lead to a destination.

Time for the military to leave, and for the advisors, if asked, to help with the reconstitution of a government, an infrastructure, and the rule of law where citizens can safely go about their business.


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