What’s the real agenda?
Normally I don’t respond to negative reader comments in the letters to the editor section of this paper unless they are so far out in left field as to be bereft of rational thought, or they serve to illustrate a point. Jason Denhart’s recent letter to the editor falls into both categories. Mr. Denhart wrote, “In Dante’s “Inferno, he describes a special place in hell reserved for those who knowingly use their position, influence and reputation to further injustice and unjust causes. I hope Richard Carnes and Butch Mazzuca enjoy their eternity, as they will both certainly find themselves in this special section of hell, along with Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney and Bush.” Those who relentlessly criticize the administration at every turn are little more than political vigilantes. Their rhetoric is rarely cogent and is illustrative of non-thinking individuals who in all likelihood would have criticized George Bush on June 6, 1944, if he had ordered the Normandy invasion. Their irrational aversion to everything the president does blinds them to the fact that it’s the conservative versus liberal discourse that maintains the dynamic tension vital to our national well being. Suggesting that someone be condemned for choosing to exercise his or her First Amendment right only illustrates the spleen of the radical left and is akin to the Taliban school of thought. Actually I’m surprised that Mr. Denhart didn’t refer to us as “infidels.” Much of the vitriol emanating from the left is oblivious to reality and is simply bumper-sticker mentality, i.e. find a catchy phrase then beat it to death regardless of its basis in fact. But primarily I suspect that this is their payback for the pounding Bill Clinton took during his presidency. After 9/11, the best strategy to dismantle al Qaida was to force Saudi Arabia and other enabling countries such as Iran and Syria to change their policies and to crack down on al Qaida’s financial and logistical systems. Factually, the United States had little credibility within the Arab world because we treated the first World Trade Center bombing as a law enforcement matter; we ran from Somalia the day after a military defeat; and we did not respond to the two embassy bombings in Africa or the deaths of 19 American sailors aboard the USS Cole. The invasion of Iraq was the surest way to gain a beachhead against terrorism where the battlefield is more psychological and cultural than military, and where the governments of the region were skeptical that the United States had the stomach for war.We incurred enormous costs by invading of Iraq. We alienated other Western nations, occupying a large and artificially created country proved far more difficult than originally thought, and gathering meaningful intelligence remains a significant challenge. But the idea of sending special ops teams into Afghanistan, the Sudan and Pakistan to hunt down al Qaida is preposterous, and those who do not or choose not to understand the complexities of fighting a war on terror will never agree with any actions taken by the Bush administration.This war in unlike any mankind has ever experienced, and a lack of appreciation for the subtleties and nuances is understandable. But too many on the left posit naive solutions rather than taking the time to educate themselves about the noxious complexities of this struggle. People who criticize without an alternative are tantamount to the uninformed who admonish that we need more parking in Vail but never bother to attend to the details of where to build a new structure, what land to acquire and how to raise the money.The Bush administration expected resistance in Iraq, although I doubt that it expected the complexity of the guerrilla war that has emerged. Iraq is a complex and multi-layered society with countless competing interests, and the administration has made its share of mistakes. From the beginning it underestimated the Iraqis’ capability to resist the United States, the tenacity and cleverness of the Sunni guerrillas and the political sophistication of the Shiite leadership. It is also apparent that the goal of reshaping Iraqi society is beyond the reach of the United States because even a “superpower” cannot remake a society that has conflicting layers dating back hundreds of years. The Bush team is off course, but that does not mean that the goal was ill-conceived. It means that the plan must be modified. We must recall our original strategy, i.e. to occupy Iraq in order to prosecute the war against al Qaida. Framed within that context, it becomes obvious that the United States has no national interest in the nature of Iraqi government or society except that any new government does not support al Qaida. Iraq’s future government will not be a Jeffersonian democracy, but it must go beyond free elections. Free elections will guarantee only that the fanatic with the most guns will win. A bill of rights must be incorporated into any new system, the acceptance of religious differences, a free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system, exposure to international media and perhaps most importantly women’s’ rights must be a part of any new government The administration has had failings in Iraq, but every war in history becomes clear with 20/20 hindsight. More importantly, we must learn to distinguish between legitimate disagreement with the administration and the “Let’s hope the president fails” attitude held by many on the left. We need not be in lockstep with the administration, but there are too many mindless people out there who would find fault with the president even if the Good Lord came down and said, “Hey George, you’re doing a good job.” Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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