Thoughts On The Iraq War: Part 2

Yesterday, I asked for reader comments on the Iraq war following the initial reactions I received to my 9/11 article. Responses came in spades. I won’t be able to post all of them today, so this has become a multi-part series on the war. To follow the entire thread as it grows, see the Geopolitics label.

Our timing is good. Last night, President Bush spoke on the war. He left his course largely unchanged, but did order gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq. He said he would not end the war. He said Iraq will still need support from the U.S. after his presidency ends.

Sid wrote:

Remember how Bush strong-armed us into invading Iraq in the first place? It was the “actual satellite photographs” of Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction”. Four years have now passed since we learned there were no nukes at all. Since being “found out”, Bush has continually tried to control public opinion with scare tactics. According to him, pulling our troops from Iraq would directly allow terrorists to come kill us on our own soil. The price tag? A war bill as high as $1 trillion and, even worse, 3,700 dead young Americans, and counting.

Remember the attempts on the part of Congress to find out more before we invaded? Bush wouldn’t take no for an answer. Why? I believe the reason Bush invaded Iraq was that he saw 9/11 as an opportunity to establish strategic control over at least a portion of the oil in the Middle East. I also think that Bush and his closest advisors believe that, down deep inside, the American people are more willing to lose a few young men (from poor families) than deal with the inconvenience of a mandatory rapid conversion to a non oil-dependent lifestyle. It is my opinion that Bush’s arrogance caused him to overstep his bounds as president. Now, with public opinion crashing down upon him, he is simply attempting to use smokescreens to politically survive until the election, when he can pass the Chinese finger puzzle he put us in to the next president, and hope he (or she) will be blamed for it.

Brian wrote:

I’ve followed this war very closely from the start. The deaths and sacrifices of some of my friends and comrades have affected me deeply. That being said, I would like to share the following thoughts and I ask that whether you consider yourself a liberal or a conservative, you give this little piece of writing a chance and at least read it through to the end.

Whenever we describe something as either liberal or conservative, we often take a situation or idea that is very complex and try to fit it into one or two overly broad categories. This is dangerous when we are trying to understand a situation because terms such as liberal and conservative immediately cause people to involve a flurry of associations and emotions.

The founding fathers of this country were wary of political parties because they saw the divisive effect they had in European countries. True, the Republicans and Democrats are fighting about what we should do in Iraq. Should this change what I believe about the war? No. The stances of the political parties are a secondary issue to me. They should be for you too. After all, that is what they are there for, to represent your beliefs. Don’t just adopt the party’s position as your own because you consider yourself a Democrat or Republican. I decide what I believe first and then take a look around and see what the official party stance on the matter might be.

I also try to remember that there is no official international stance (hawkish or dovish) associated with the Republican or Democratic party over the long run. Remember, in the most general terms a liberal president took us into Vietnam and a conservative president took us out.

When I see a liberal Congressman say that everything in Iraq is going wrong, I think, “Shame on you, that is not an accurate statement.” When I see a conservative Congressman gloss over all the problems we are having, I think, “Shame on you, there are indeed serious problems in Iraq.”

Maybe there are some brilliant thoughts emanating from the Democratic party and some brilliant thoughts emanating from the Republican party and the only thing stopping them from coming together in a solid plan is that these ideas each have political stigmas attached to them and would never gain the support of both parties at the same time.

The divisiveness and polarization of the American political parties that has increased over the last few years is probably not helping policy makers have a healthy debate about the best way to proceed in Iraq.

So I try to do my part as an American and keep a cool head and hear out a person’s opinion for what is: a summation of a lifetime of experience and thinking and not just conservative or liberal. I write my Congressmen and tell them I prefer to see discussion and debate with the focus on a truly thoughtful outcome. I don’t want the Democratic party to win at all costs and I don’t want the Republican party to win at all costs.

I am in the military. I get up every day and work extremely hard for this country because I care about it. I sacrifice. When I see people ask thoughtful questions and then get hateful responses, whether they are liberal or conservative, it makes my heart weary. In my head, this isn’t America the liberal or America the conservative. This is America your country, America my country, and America our country. I don’t care if you think you are a liberal, a conservative, or a Martian, I’ll listen to your thoughts because I know you would do the same for me.

Finally, for today, Fred wrote:

I thought your article was dead on, and I look forward to seeing the film. Part of the reason I subscribe to your newsletter and have enjoyed your books is that you offer a perspective quite different from most investment-related writers, most of whom, regardless of merit, I find tedious, politically predictable, and boring. Your theories have consistently made money for me, and I have always enjoyed your writing. I’m surprised that anyone familiar with your writing would be surprised by your comments. I don’t know your politics, but your writing has consistently demonstrated open-mindedness on a wide range of topics. Your criticizing the war at this point shouldn’t really come as a shock to anyone. I enjoy the opportunity to read someone who’s obviously not part of the Republican Wall Street establishment to which so many investment writers seem to belong. Keep up the good work.

I will, Fred, and thank you for the kind remarks.

There’s a lot more, which I’ll post gradually.

Enjoy the weekend.

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