Column: Dumbing down the Iraq debate

The 2004 election season – all two years of it – required many sacrifices from all of us. Namely, our dignity comes to mind. However, aside from the humiliation of constructing campaign chants that rhyme the phrase “vacant Supreme Court seats,” the true loss of election season has been our honesty and our intellectualism.

During elections, more than ever, we lose our ability to look rationally at issues and come to a balanced decision. Policy becomes boiled down to all right or all wrong. There is no compromise. Now, it is easy to blame such a dumbing down of issues on conservative pundits such as Sean Hannity who blame liberals for everything from 9/11, to bad coffee, to all those French homosexual abortion doctors aimlessly wandering the streets. Or we could blame it on the Bush administration, which interprets the slightest questioning of its wisdom tantamount to questioning to Lord Almighty himself, which we all know is a big “no-no” in God’s chosen nation – the U.S., not Israel, of course.

Of late, however, liberals have become just as guilty of such simplicity. The prime example of what has become a dangerous attitude can be found in post-war Iraq. Unfortunately, too many liberals have taken their anti-war sentiment and transformed it to anti-everything when it comes to Iraq. These liberals imagine that the lack of justification for war leaves no justifications for anything when it comes to Iraq.

This is yet another example of simplicity in politics if anti-war rhetoric dismisses any benefits that can be salvaged for the Iraqi people, and it needs to stop.

First and foremost, I am absolutely sick of grumblings among liberals that Iraqis were better off before the war than they are today. This is total nonsense. Although things over there are far from peachy, anybody that thinks that Iraqis are better off under a regime that can rape, pillage, steal and murder at a the drop of a pin is a fool. Just ask a Kurd if he or she would prefer an American “occupation” or Hussein back in power.

Second, there are too many liberals out there who claim that democracy cannot succeed in the Middle East. This attitude is remarkably racist and anti-Islamic from a liberal philosophy that should be most accepting to the idea that all can embrace freedom. It is offensive to argue that simply because Iraqis are Muslim and situated in the Middle East they cannot grasp the “Western” concept of freedom and democracy. All men deserve to be free, and all men can be free. No, it’s not going to be easy. And yes, it’s going to be largely for show for a long time. But Japan did it; so can Iraq.

And finally, and almost worst of all, there are those who transform anti-war sentiment as justification to pull out of Iraq. Again, this is a most uncompassionate – and therefore un-liberal — approach to the Iraq situation. Thanks to the administration’s gross underestimation of the cost of invading Iraq, the United States is now the proud owner of 25 million plus people. Anti-war or not, it is inhumane and irresponsible to abandon the Iraqi people now and leave them to generations of turmoil and terrorism. We’ve broken it; now we buy it. No excuses or false victories until we’re done.

I write all this as anti-war myself. Although I initially supported the war, the absence of WMDs destroyed my rationale for it. It is important for us, however, to not follow the simplistic tendencies of American politics and ignore the good that we’ve accomplished. Another democracy in the Middle East and the freedom of over 25 million people is a wonderful thing. Is it worth the lives of over 1,300 American soldiers, billions of dollars and destruction of our international support in the war on terror? Probably not, hence why I am anti-war. However, while the ends do not justify the means, we must bear down and accomplish the ends nonetheless. It’s time for politics to take a rest and policy to finally rein true again on both sides of the aisle. Anti-war or pro-war, we must all be pulling for the same thing now: success and freedom for the sake of the Iraqi people.

-The writer, a junior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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