It is extremely important to think clearly and without any preconceived answers.
First, it doesn't matter whether you were for or against the war it is now a "done deal" and there is nothing, at this point, to be gained by allowing this to bias our thinking.
Second, it doesn't matter whether the the war was the right or wrong thing to do. Again, it is a "done deal" and should not be allowed to cloud the question of what we should do or not do now.
Third, it doesn't matter if the war was precipitated on false pretenses. Spilt milk.
Stop thinking about the above as they are a waste of time and while important on some level are not actually germane to solving the problems that Cheney and the other neocons have created for the U.S. and the world.
There are really only two questions that need to be addressed:
1. Will an American withdrawal from Iraq create more or less stability in the Middle East?
2. Will a withdrawal increase or decrease the threat of additional terrorist attacks here and elsewhere?
Any other questions are actually side issues of the above two fundamental questions. If we cannot answer those two questions with some assurance of accuracy then we have not gotten a grasp on the situation.
I want us out of Iraq, and the sooner the better, but I am not so sure I am prepared to pay the long term price of an ill considered "cut and run" nor do I think we can "stay the course". There has to be an answer in between these two extremes. There has to be some new thinking.
The other key point to remember, as we go forward, is that we should not look to the current administration for the answers. They have proven themselves incapable of creative thought when it comes to the future of the middle east and therefore cannot be expected to suddenly have the answers needed. There have to be new players.
While I do not have the answers I do want to make sure we are thinking clearly about the options.
- An "American style" democracy may not the the appropriate solution for Iraq or any other country in the middle east.
- Patriotism has absolutely nothing to do with what is right or wrong for Iraq.
- "Christian" values have no intrinsic value when it comes to the correct solution for the current mess.
- We cannot "undo" anything done so far.
- Al-Qaeda(or its equivalent) exists and our actions will either empower it or weaken it.
- We may have screwed up so badly and pushed the situation so far toward disaster that only massive upheaval can create the conditions necessary for progress.
- No solution is going to be perfect.
- More people, Iraqi, American, British, Jordanian, man, woman and child are going to die before we begin to see light and hope.
- Peace and stability are possible but are going require effort, courage and treasure.
Let's get going on trying to find our way.