Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Slaying the Course

The release of today’s Iraq Study Group report with 79 recommendations clearly exemplify Albert Einstein's old claim; current problems can’t be solved with the same thinking that got us into them. A group of professional politicians with the youngest member only 67 years old doesn’t inspire confidence in ‘creative’ thinking or the ‘comprehensive approach” Chairman Lee Hamilton insists is needed.

Most experts agree there is no magic bullet. Most agree there is not even a good solution to the “grave and deteriorating” situation. All we have is bad choices and hopeful outcomes. That's just what we started with. Ideally, the study group would have been useful before the invasion and occupation but that’s not the way the Bush Administration worked.

Outreach to Syria and Iran?
If Iran wants the US bogged down in Iraq it is unlikely that even ‘tough negotiations” will work on the one nation that has the most influence inside Iraq today. It is possible that progress could be made after Iran refuses negotiations and is then embarrassed into positive action but it is far more likely that Iranians will see US diplomacy as an appeasement and simply up their anti-US policies. The greatest opportunity for US influence in Iran is to advance the international indictment of Iran’s President for his violation of both the UN Charter and the Genocide Convention by his repeated incitement of genocide against Israel and the Jewish people.

Our greatest interest in persisting in our efforts to create a peaceful Iraq is our dependence on Middle East oil and our interdependence with Israel’s quest for security in the war against Islamic extremists.

Bush has preached about “The transformational power of liberty” but this murderous debacle isn’t really about liberty or democracy. It’s about security. Ours and the Iraqi people’s. Shortly after the release of the report Tony Snow said “The power of the hope of liberty is something you cannot quantify”. This is true, but the lethality of war and terror can be. With well over three thousand Iraqi’s being murdered every week and over 100,000 Iraqis leaving the country every month the simple quantitative analysis is more than horrific. It’s catastrophic. Talking about freedom and democracy in a catastrophic climate demonstrates complete ignorance of both human nature and sound political judgment.

The real, persistent and growing threat to Israel is no more and no less important, than the real and growing threat to the majority of the Iraqi people of continued violence.

After the horrors of World War II (genocide, nuclear weapons, mass refugees) we created a United Nations to prevent the scourge of war for future generations. It wasn’t a bad idea. It just wasn’t given a decent chance. At the heart of the UN Charter was the supremacy of national sovereignty; ‘the right of any nation, to do anything it wants, to anyone it wants, whenever it wants’. This inherently flawed system of global management cannot stand. The UN has neither the financial or military capacity to enforce even its most important Security Council resolutions such as the disarmament of Hezbollah or even the simplest, the return of a handful of kidnapped Israel soldiers. It is increasingly clear that such toothless governance, or limited ‘war’ or even ‘faith’ is not the answer.

Perhaps its time we fall back on the concept that our founding fathers leaned on…”the concept of ‘federation’ and the ‘rule of law”. The first test action after a global police action to stop genocide in Darfur could be the enforceable indictment of Iran’s President for his repeated incitement of genocide against Israel and it’s people.

Another possible and important action ignored by the Iraq Study Group is the need for a sincere apology by President Bush for what may be the greatest foreign policy error in American History. With nearly 3000 brave US military personal dead, over 20,000 wounded and half a trillion dollars already spent there is little doubt that Americans will likely be paying even more in both blood and treasure for generations to come. The only means of reducing the accumulation of future costs will require an increase in security for the Iraqi people … and it is clear that no level of US military power cannot achieve it. The report’s commissioners unanimously agree that while more US troops are not a good idea, they also believe that nearly 5 times more US consultants/trainers are. They are wrong.

What is needed is a capable international force made up of personal from various Muslim majority nations heavily supported by US financing and technical support. Every nation in the Middle East has an interest in seeing a peaceful resolution to Iraqi chaos and the consequences that growing chaos would spread to their own territory. In short, we broke it, but we don’t have to fix it. We must however, acknowledge that we broke it and then go out of our way to pay financially for fixing it. Our blood or theirs is no longer acceptable currency.

Any other approach is extremely flawed and potential dangerous for everyone. Appeasement of Iran, Syria, PLO and Hamas is not an option. But waging war against them isn’t either. Everyone, including the US Bush administration, must be held accountable, protected from mass murder and contribute to cessation of unlawful violence.

Those who use terror must never be given a free pass. But those who chose war cannot be given a ‘freedom’ pass to achieve their goals however they see fit.

It’s often said that governments can always be counted on to do the right thing. But, only after throughout exhausting every other possibility…at least twice. Iraq is not Vietnam but you get the point. It’s time to take another path. Security for all (Jews, Iraqi’s and Americans alike) need to be the foundation of that path.

But according to the study US troops will be in Iraq a very, very long time…


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