This is a question for every American about our war in Iraq –a question of conscience, an examination of conscience, that every American should make.

First, a prologue: as you know from this diary? blog?, I am very opposed to our war –America’s war– in Iraq. But, sad to say, the very pressing moral questions about the war are not being faced. They are being shut out ongoingly from the minds of the U.S. people by some unfortunate circumstances.

Number 1. “Unfortunate Circumstance” is the current political balance of power. Certainly –because of the country’s “unhappiness” with the war in Iraq, the Democrats triumphed in the 2006 elections. Unfortunately, they didn’t triumph enough –didn’t win enough seats in the Senate– to bring a responsible end to the war (however “end” is defined, as opposed to continuing it.)
Consequently, that feeling of triumph has given way to a feeling of extreme dissatisfaction and much frustration, especially among the “further lefts”. Which is pretty much where we are at today, on the 10th of October, 2007. I consider this reaction as understandable but unrealistic considering the political possibilities.
And I think that the Dem. spokespeople (Reid, Pelosi et al.– not Al Gore, by the way, although maybe you, too, Al) have been particularly inept at explaining the evolving situation. (And Senator Joseph Lieberman’s hard-assed neo-con pro-war tendency ongoingly threatens further that delicate vulnerable balance.)

The real message for the Dem electorate is: “OK. Thanks for giving us the win in 2006. But it was not enough. What we need in 2008 is an overwhelming victory.”

Number 2. “Unfortunate Circumstance” is very connected to #1: in our long election season, already well underway, the perceived need that the Dem. candidates feel to present themselves as “not-soft-on-the-war” is down-playing what ought to be a rising anger with and outrage against the war.
OK, so Hillary and Obama (and maybe even Edwards) have to watch that “not-soft” perceived pitfall –I am not persuaded, but….

But, consider this: What a Great Opportunity, what an extraordinary platform for a real, full-tilt, pull-no-punches articulate, smart, electrifying, “good-communicating”, passionate (even morally-outraged) individual to get up on and make the case. And KEEP ON MAKING IT. Unrelentingly. (Someone like Howard Dean might be able to do it; he has some of the above attributes, but not all…Perhaps Howard and some others? It doesn’t have to be one.)
The point would not be to win the nomination, not even to try. The point is to make the against-the-war case and to make it powerfully. The Dem. debates we have seen are almost without passion and outrage: the new person would be electrifying; would take off the gloves vis-a-vis Mr. Bush and Co. –the lies, the incompetence, the “talk only to God” arrogance.

For starters, just to give a few examples of what I have in mind, I would ask such questions as:

a. Mr. Bush, how different would your approach to the war be if your daughters were serving in Iraq? Would you and Laura have had a bake sale on the White House lawn to raise the money for proper body armor for them?
b. Did you ever estimate how many U.S. soldiers lost their lives in response to your “Bring it on” taunt.
c. I’m organizing a “Buy body armor for the troops” drive. How many can I put you down for? Mrs Bush? Mr. Cheney? Do you have a number for Mr. Rumsfeld? And…and…etc.
How about instead of a draft (which we should have had anyway) how about getting every family to donate a full set of body armor?
(Some of the very rich could spring for a fully-armored Humvee.)

Other ideas: How about a reality-survivor type TV show in which Water-boarding and other ordeals are demonstrated, so American audiences can vote on whether America is torturing or not. It is after-all being done in our name.
How about a Special Olympics spot at Beijing in 2008 for all our poor soldiers who have lost limbs.
How about an “Our hearts go out” competition to see whose heart goes out furthest, and stays out longest.

I’ll let it go at that in the interests of time, but I have a million of them. I apologise to anyone who is offended by my words here: we owe it to ourselves to have that –and all other– discussions about this war. Think of it this way: maybe you will get me to change my mind.

Which brings me –finally– to my AMERICA, HOW COULD YOU? question.
I want to talk to everybody.

Let us leave to one side all of you who have always been AGAINST the war.
Let us also leave to one side all of you who have always been FOR the war, are for it still, and are holding out for TOTAL VICTORY.

This examination of conscience is for all others, the ones who were once for the war, but have turned against it because it hasn’t turned out well. Americans only like Successful Wars, it is said. Now you think it’s not going so well; you have turned against it.
But you have’nt come out and said so. You have plenty of company. None of us finds it easy to take responsibility for our own failures. Mr. Bush cannot admit the slightest mistake –“Mistakes were made” doesn’t cut it.
Can you admit it, fellow-Americans?

Your penance? I’m going to leave that up to you. (A suggestion: show your face at the next anti-war demonstration. Let’s make it overwhelmingly, undeniably, BIG.)

A final note: The war in Iraq is OUR war! It is not Mr. Bush’s war (though it is that, too.) It is our war because we didn’t do enough to stop it. Even if that meant coming out late, in 2006, in more force and working harder to defeat the Bush side or being more persuasive with the “don’t knows” and “undecideds”.
We are not doing this to beat Bush, or to prove him wrong. We are not going to give him the victory by putting all the responsibility on him.

We are doing this to get our country back on the right track. We are doing this to clear our conscience. After our long and bitter argument, we owe this to those directly at risk to now, as a nation, DO THE RIGHT THING.

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