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Righteously angry

Righteously angry

The whole world is pointing fingers, seeking someone to blame for the chaos in Iraq. Maybe the recent election is a reflection that it's time for the pointing to stop and change to happen--fast.

The Iraqis are ungrateful--so say some in the American media. Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has made it clear he is not "America's man in Iraq" and is on record as saying that he blames the United States-led coalition for Iraq's chaos and has faulted the U.S. military strategy.

How dare he. How dare this prime minister, whom President Bush always touts as an independently elected official of a sovereign nation, act independently and actually appear to bite the hand that feeds him. After all, Americans put him in power. We made the election possible. We own that country; how dare its people or their leader actually criticize us, our tactics, our leadership. Hell, they shouldn't even comment on the color of our fatigues. No, this independently elected official of a sovereign nation should do exactly what we say and do it with a smile and a "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" Ingrates. Don't they know we are dying for them?

Well, yes, they do. But that goodwill is worn out. While Iraqis may be grateful that we deposed Saddam Hussein, it's hard to stay positive when you don't have electricity, running water, or sanitation, when, as CNN's embedded reporter Arwa Damon put it, "Each day stepping in the street is seen as a dangerous act, going to the market could cost your life, and going to work is impossible--that is, if you're one of the 40% of Iraqis that actually have a job." Yes, they want security, but when everywhere an American goes violence follows, when in retaliation we drop bombs that aren't accurate, bombs that blow up countless civilians, when you have to turn a football stadium into a giant burial ground to become known as the stadium of death, and when just about every household has lost someone to the conflict, any human would say enough is enough. We wouldn't tolerate this kind of thing for one day, and yet they've had to for almost four years. Yet now if they say they've had enough, they're ingrates?

Here are the facts, Americans. We lost the battle for and in Iraq and Afghanistan. The situation won't be fixed soon; it may not ever be fixed the way we want it to be. There cannot be a timetable because time is irrelevant there, in a region that has had conflict for thousands of years. Iraq, or what's left of it, is in civil war, religious civil war, and not only can we not stop that, our presence there incites it. We have to leave-- and leave soon. Move to the outer borders of Iraq, try to secure them, and leave the country to the Iraqis. That's what their leader now says, but oh, no, we don't get it, we don't understand.

After all, it's too complicated for us, mere mortals, mere American citizens to understand. Soon-to-be-former secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said so during a news conference in late October when he told reporters to back off, to relax, this is complicated stuff, it's beyond your grasp, just sit back and relax. Relax. Americans are dying at his hands and the hands of our president every day and his message is relax, sit back, it's complex. I screamed, "Would someone please fire this man, please?" This was the straw that should have driven everyone to call for this man's resignation. Sit back, relax, it's complex, don't question us. Sieg heil, mein Rumsfeld. But that wasn't the straw for our president. It took a Democratic capture of the House and Senate for him to get the point, leading him to announce Rumsfeld's resignation the day after the election, November 8. Of course even the president, when questioned about Democrats before the election, responded, "I do not question their patriotism, I question their ability to understand how dangerous the world is." Again, we don't get it, we're too stupid, let him lead the way, and the rest of us should just shut up. Again, Sieg heil, mein Bush.

What's really alarming here is that the Iraqis seem to get it, Al-Maliki seems to get it, but our officials do not seem to get it. They think words like benchmarks or flexible strategy actually mean something. And they're getting testy. Bush is getting testiest of all. They don't want tough questions, and it's amazing that people are actually asking them now. They don't want them because they don't have any real answers to the questions. So their only response? Sit back, relax. This is complex. We're going to set up benchmarks. I'm not satisfied with Iraq, but I'm also not dissatisfied when asked. Oh, please.

And while they talk people continue to die, Iraqis and Americans alike. And now Americans are getting fed up, Iraqis are getting fed up, and how is that frustration being greeted? Well, with zero action, a plethora of rhetoric, and a feeling that if you state your displeasure, you are either ungrateful, too stupid to understand complex issues, or downright unpatriotic.

I'll say it again: America, we've lost the war; it is not winnable. We cannot win the hearts and minds of Iraqis as long as innocent people are being killed every day. It cannot happen. You can't win a war if you don't improve the lives of the Iraqis--or the Afghanis, for that matter. We've lost Afghanistan. The Taliban is stronger than ever. The drug trade is booming. They're well-funded and well-armed, they've kicked the NATO forces' asses, and Bush did not send enough troops to win that battle.

We've occupied the Afghans' home, destroyed it, and then said to them how dare you question us or suggest we are the cause of your problems. We destroyed Afghanistan in air raids and then wondered why the Taliban came back and why the people did not help us more. We continually make Iraqis' lives impossible through our very presence and then criticize them for saying get out.

Shame on us. Is our need to be right, to win, to have some sense of success worth destroying two countries? Is it easier for you to sleep at night knowing we're still fighting, still trying, that we haven't given up? Because Iraqis can't sleep well at night, and Afghans can't either.

We're not right. What we've done is wrong, and it gets worse by the day. And what's worse, what Americans refuse to accept, is that it's our fault. Democrats, it's your fault for not standing up to this administration. Our founding fathers put a system of checks and balances in place so Congress could tell the president, "No! Stop it!" So the Senate could say, "No! This is wrong! We're not going to let you." But the spineless Democrats and Republicans cared and care more about keeping their jobs, about how their vote or comments will play out on the evening news than actually governing. And Americans drank the Kool-Aid and in doing so lost the soul of our nation and destroyed the soul of the Iraqis and Afghans. Even now, after the election, the Democrats sit and debate alongside the very people who caused the mess. They talk of bipartisan efforts and of changing strategies. And while they talk people die.

Courage is not fighting until you get it right. Courage is stopping when you know you're on the wrong path, admitting you're wrong, and trying to make it right, even if the only solution is to leave, be it a marriage or a war. And you cannot win gratitude at the end of a gun or by dropping a bomb on someone's home.

The sad part is that in this case, Al-Maliki is right and Bush is wrong. And Al-Maliki has more courage than our leaders, because at least he's saying what we all know. The elephant in the room is the Republicans and their leadership, and now that Americans have said the elephant must go, they still are the ones who don't get it, these legislators. They're the ingrates. We trusted them at first. We put our belief in them, that they did in fact know what they were doing, and it turns out they had no plan. We let them wage their unjust war, and their response was the most ungrateful of all--they betrayed our trust, our conscience, and our country.

And they betrayed the trust of innocent Iraqis whom they told, "We're here to make it better." We made it worse. We lost, and they want us out. Let's listen to the people, not the neocons in power or the Democrats who are taking over with a small voice. The people of Iraq say thanks but no thanks anymore. If democracy in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East was the goal, then listen to the will of the people. From insurgents to simple working people, they have spoken: It's time for us to go. Do the right thing, the democratic thing--leave.

And Americans, how about actually using our democracy for good? Now that we have voted these people out let's actually start getting the job done, the job of healing the wounds of a stunning defeat in Iraq instead of patting ourselves on the back and hawking bipartisanism. We need to mourn our losses--the lives we've lost and the respect. And we need to move on. But we can't move forward until we cut out the cancer of neocons who refuse to listen to the people, the people here and there, and that means screwing an attitude of forgiveness and bipartisanship and remembering that these neocons betrayed us, and now, as Rumsfeld said, it's time for them to sit back, shut up, and relax; this is complicated stuff and it's obviously beyond your grasp. Let new leaders take over and take a fresh look.

We opened their ears on November 7. Now it's time to open your hearts to the people you've sent half a trillion dollars for their "liberation." Let them be liberated--let them go.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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