Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Don't Do It": The Economist and Iraq

When I opened my mailbox last Saturday morning I was deeply impacted by the message that confronted me on the cover of that week's Economist: "Don't Do It." Don't leave Iraq bloodied and broken and on the verge of more terror, fear, pain and inhumanity.

Don't walk away from the responsibility that you undertook four years ago.

Talking with a friend later about this image, I was quite surprised by his views on The Economist: "Oh, you read that rightist rag?"

Well, I guess that depends on your point of view. My bottom-line opinion of The Economist is that it is a consistently thoughtful and provocative publication. It is always balanced and reasoned in its clearly stated opinions , and it is up front and honest with its views.

Frankly, I do not believe The Economist to be a rightist rag in any sense other than the fact that it is not a "leftist rag." It does not look at current systems of politics and economics and posit their extreme opposites as potential prescriptions - you will never read in The Economist that all oil refineries should be shut down today or that people should start living on communes to grow and distribute foods in a manner that is less harmful to the earth.

I guess it is not all that "granola."

Rather, the Economist criticizes the US administration for its failings whether it be a Republican or Democrat in the White House, and posits well thought out and reasonable actions that can be taken within the current framework of politics and economics. It consistently comes forth with a reasoned approach to working within the current systems of our society to reach a positive result.

And that is respectable. Would it be nice if we became an oil-free country that didn't pollute and had no reason to overthrow sovereign states to meet the dictates of the political and economic powers that hold sway in our current power structure - be it nominally Republican or Democratic. Damn straight.

But it is not likely to happen, and I appreciate a voice that tells us how to work within the current system to achieve as positive a result as is possible.

And I, to be clear on my opinion, believe that for the US to turn its back on Iraq at this point would be a crime against humanity that would stain the conscience and reputation of the "western world" for generations. Find a new way forward - don't walk away and wash your hands of the long and bloody fight that would follow.

And no, I don't know for sure what that resolution should be or how to attain it - but I do know that it involves restoring sunshine to the lives of a populace living under a frightfully black sky.

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