“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Thursday, September 14, 2006

About Iraq

I think the debate on the war in Iraq is way off base. Why we went is not the issue about why we remain.

For the record, I do not like war. I do not believe war is some glorious escapade, to be anticipated or enjoyed. War is ugly. It is destructive. Innocent people get hurt or killed. And, those who participate in it carry wounds in their hearts for the rest of their lives because of what they have experienced. However, I do believe there are times when war is the correct course of action.

When President Bush committed our military forces to conflict in Iraq, I remember feeling like it was being rushed. I believed then, and still believe now, that such a conflict would inevitably occur. But, I had the distinct impression it might not be the right time. Still, based on the evidence presented worldwide—not just by Bush and the administration—I put my support behind the ouster of Saddam Hussein and his bloody government. Since then, evidence has come out refuting most, if not all, the claims of why we should have attacked. And, for that reason, many are saying we must leave now.

Well, believe it or not, I agree we must settle the internal conflict of why we should or should not have gone to war. I agree that any wrongdoers should be held accountable—no matter what place they hold in government. I do not agree that we must pull our forces out of Iraq immediately, or on some preset time table. I believe it would be a disaster to do so. And, I’ll explain why. Let me use an allegory, of sorts.

Suppose there is a house in your neighborhood. The roof on the house looks like hell. All the neighbors believe the roof is a problem and a possible safety threat. Contractor after contractor comes by and says, “That roof has to go.” But, none of them are willing to take on the project. There are even people--a few , not all--who live in the house who really want the roof replaced, but individually can't affor it. You come along, the umpteenth time, and say, ”Nuts. I’m taking off that roof before someone inside the house gets hurt.” And, you put a work crew on the house, tear off the roof—decking, trusses and all—only to discover the roof was pretty stable after all.

Now, at this point, you have two choices. You can say, “Oops. I made a mistake” and walk away leaving the homeowners to deal with the problem you created. Or, you can stay until a new roof is installed—at your cost—and the people are safe again. Think of that contractor’s situation if he just walks off the jobsite. Think of the lawsuits! The loss of business! Even if he did everything for the right reasons, he still has defaulted on his responsibilities by walking away. No, the contractor--you, in this case--must stay until the roof the homeowner wants is completely installed and finished.

I know…I know…It’s incredibly oversimplified. But, I think that is a fair representation of what happened and where we are in Iraq. Government is the roof of a nation. It keeps order. And, to varying degrees, keeps the population secure. The U.S., right or wrong, removed the roof on Iraq. If we walk away, without fixing the roof, what are the consequences? International reputation—poor as it is—would be worse. The fueling of the terrorist movement--because of their apparent victory—would be huge. And, that doesn’t even touch the issue of the safety and security of the Iraqi people themselves.

Now, we are not the ones who get to decide what type of roof they will have when it's finished. That is for the Iraqis to decide. We do-—like it or not--have the responsibility to remain in Iraq until the roof is restored—if it is at all possible.