Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Patience on Iraq

I seem to be recommending a lot of articles from the Washington Post of late, but I suppose that's because I consider it a must read for those interested in national and international affairs.

Which is not to say that I agree with all their writers, and sometimes REALLY disagree with their editorial stances, but by and large they manage to present a broad range of views from people who, truth be told, have mad DC their home beat.

Today's recommendation is from Harold Meyerson who (along with EJ Dionne) is one of the Post's most reliable reasonable progressives.

No one has ever described David Obey as phlegmatic. The Wisconsin Democrat, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, combines long-standing liberal passions with a keen sense for the deals that must be cut to turn those passions into law. And on occasion, people who don't share Obey's assessment of where, and whether, the deal should be cut have been subjected to an Obey outburst.

Last week, as he was working to build support for amendments that would impose a 2008 deadline on U.S. combat activities in Iraq, Obey was accosted by Tina Richards, an antiwar activist and mother of a Marine. With YouTube immortalizing the encounter, Richards asked Obey why he was supporting the supplemental war appropriations bill to which the amendments would be attached and why Congress couldn't just defund the war and bring the troops home now.

Obey erupted. "We can't get the votes," he shouted. "Do you see a magic wand in my pocket? We don't have the votes for it."

"We're trying to use the supplemental," he explained, "to end the war." Obey has since apologized for blowing up, but that hasn't deterred some antiwar bloggers from condemning him as some loony warmonger. In a similar vein, other antiwar protesters now ring Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco home, calling on her to bring the troops home now.

In effect, what the protesters are doing is making the unattainable perfect the enemy of the barely-attainable good.

And I have to agree.

To be clear I certainly understand the frustration many feel about a war that should never hae been started in the first place.

But short of staging some kind of coup d'etat I expect progress to be made only incrementally.

And yes, it is criminal that more American soldiers and innocent Iraqis will die while congress' wheels slowly grind, but it is important to remember that the guilt for these deahs lies not at the feet of those who are slowly but surely pushing the wheel, but at those who got us here in the first place.

As Mr. Meyerson points out either more Republicans (and blue-dog Dems) will join the growing consensus against the war, or they will be replaced in 2008.

I know it seems a long time, and for those who die it will be, quite literally an eternity, but it's important to remember that Bush has spent 6 years digging this hole (and continues to dig away). It will take time for Democratic leadership to dig us out.


. said...

The protesters are giving voice to opinions that have been ignored for 4 years now. They're pushing the debate away from the cautious, "wait and see" while disaster unfolds tactic.

It's a debate we've needed to have for a long time now and it's the only reason the Congress is discussing options at all.

The extremes define the range of acceptable options. We've spent the last few years debating whether we should legalize torture, surrender civil liberties, roundup all Muslims, preemptively use tactical nuclear weapons.

Finally, we're hearing from the other side. That's a positive trend, not the enemy of the good.

Citizen Kang said...

Thanks for your observation.

The protesters are giving voice to opinions that have been ignored for 4 years now.

Quite true, and I certainly don't advocate that those who oppose this war discontinue to do so, and vocally.

My main point, I suppose, is that we also admit some understanding of the admittedly slow processes involved and gauge our behavior accordingly.