Monday, September 26, 2005

War Protestin'

I'm certainly an opponent of the war in Iraq but, have any of you ever tried to, or felt the need to, participate in a mass demonstration like the ones we saw this weekend and today? Honestly, they've never worked for me.

Part of the reason is that many of them are organized by ANSWER which is a questionable organization, admirable for its ability to get rallies together but troublesome for its history, including its recent history, of supporting dictators either because they claim, often falsely, some left wing affiliation or simply because they oppose the United States. Though I can't find an online link with a quick search, I have bumped into their representatives in Union Square and they have, at times, supported the insurgents in Iraq as freedom fighters. Like I said, I'm against our war there and I know why there's a rebellion against it and I even recognize their right to fight against an occupying power, but... let's not delude ourselves. I can understand them but I can't support them. I can't support them because their vision of society is offensive to me. Ask me "why are they fighting us?" and I have a bunch of common sense answers. But those people and I don't share any sort of philosophy, not even in the least bit.

Other people I've met in Union Square, protest types of no discernible affiliation, have been crazy supporters of Lyndon LaRouche, still believing that the British monarchs control the world. Okay.

Israel has also been another issue where I take issue with these types. I'm very critical of Israel, I think their government has not behaved to the standards that it claims not only as a commitment but as the justification for a modern Israeli state. The Palestinians have been badly treated by Israel. I think that's easily fair to say. But, heck, they've also been unfairly treated by the Arab countries in the region and have been used as pawns against Israel. There's no doubt that I hold Israel as a democracy, to a very high standard and that they could have and should have done better by their Palestinian neighbors.

But, again, there's no point in fooling ourselves. If I were forced to be a member of a Palestinian society tomorrow, I'd be miserable. To be honest, their both victims and criminals, in the broadest sense, both people fighting for autonomy and yet still adherents to some very ugly and backwards ideas.

The protest types I've met don't see the ambiguity or the complexity of the matter. Honestly, a lot of rabid Israel supporters don't see that either, but it's hard for me to hang with any group that doesn't seen the wrongs of both sides in that region.

Then there's the ambiguity of the message? Free Mumia? I have no idea whether he's guilty or not. But he has nothing to do with the issue at hand and yet he's constantly brought up among that crowd.

9-11 as a US government insider job? Sorry, even at my most paranoid, I don't buy it.

An impending draft? Not even the Pentagon wants it. The last thing they need are soldiers who don't want to be there.

Those are all things I've heard or seen brought up in Union Square.

Finally, there is the big issue -- immediate withdrawal from Iraq. In an ideal world, our allies would step in to help us, stablize the situation, and fix our mess, under the auspices of the UN, but they have no reason to do so. I've seen it argued that our presence there is inflammatory and the cause of the current violence and while I buy that to some extent, I also think that our withdrawal would leave yet another conflict where the most powerful elements duke it our for supremacy and we wind up with some one in power who is as bad as Saddam was.

I wish we hadn't started the war but we did. I believe that we were lied to about the rationale for starting the war and that sucks. I believe we were lied to about what the war would cost in terms of lives and dollars and that also sucks. But it still happened. I don't care about our image, about "cutting and running," or even winning or losing. That we were lied, manipulated and cajoled into starting the war is important but it's an issue for our government and our people to deal with. That's a domestic issue.

There are no do-overs. We shouldn't have invaded Iraq, but we did. We're all responsible for our government's actions, whether or not we were lied to. I'd love for the troops to be brought home right now and I wish we hadn't alienated a world who could help us out, but as Colin Powell said, to the anger of The Pottery Barn, we broke it, and now we're responsible for it. That sucks.

But even if we hate what we did and how we did it, we still started this war, overthrew a government and left chaos in the wake. I can and do oppose our representatives, on both sides, who let this happen. But I can't back the "bring the troops home," folks in light of what we've done over the past 2 years. In the classic pattern of the manipulator, Bush basically followed a course of action that was so dramatic that we have to deal with the consequences no matter what we thought or think about the war.

Back to the protesters -- protests are great. People need a venue for self expression and marching is better than apathy, by far. But they really are their own sort of people. I think that for those of us who share some of their views, ideas and hopes, it's hard not to ask, "Why don't I do things like that?" But, I think, in the end, it's because being progressive encompasses a very large point of view, fraught with contradictions and specific issues where we all disagree. On the central issue of the day, bringing the troops home now, I find the notion attractive and I can sympathize with it and wish it were so, but I can't support it. On the other stuff I've written about here, well, never forget that while the right has their weird Christians who claim that homosexuality is so rampant in Oklahoma public schools that girls need escorts to the restroom and they have their freaks who want to teach intelligent design or to starve the government of tax resources -- we have some loonies, too.

I like loonies. Sometimes, what's crazy now becomes common wisdom years later. I think that acceptance and support of same sex marriage, for example, is a fringe belief now that will be a given decades from now.

But there are some people I can't connect with, even if they're mostly on my side.


At 10:22 AM , Blogger adriana said...

god, thank you for writing this. it definitely articulates what i've been feeling.

i was reading it, though, thinking, "damn, we think too much." it's our curse and our blessing. we are so well-aquainted with the gray areas and ambiguities that i fear as a Cause people like us will never fully come together.

still, i'd rather embrace the ambiguity than align myself with something i don't agree with.

fuh, i don't know.

At 11:00 PM , Blogger tifanie said...

I attended the first huge anti war rally against invading Irq in San Francisco. I was really excited to go, not understanding that what I was about to see was exactly what you described here. I was vastly dissilusioned by the whole fiasco. I found it disorganized, misguided, and full of useless rhetoric.

It's just not enough to nay say anymore, on either side. We need realistic plan and solutions.

And far far les pachouli..

At 11:01 PM , Blogger tifanie said...

That's "Iraq", not "Irq". I'm all for invading anything called "Irq". It sounds like it is full of dangerous heathens.

At 2:42 PM , Blogger Ideasculptor said...

I'm not sure I agree wth your argument against pulling out now. Sure, I agree with you in principle, but only in the context that staying would somehow result in less mayhem than leaving, and I'm not at all sure that is the case. I do think we should finish what we started, but how do you define 'finishing' our efforts in Iraq. Is the result of leaving provably superior to the result of staying? I'm not sure I've seen a compelling argument for that yet, especially with 3 more years of GWB in the works.


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