On the March 24th show of Real Time With Bill Maher, panelist David Frum, sitting in the "wingnut" seat, asked an excellent* question: If an American pullout results in a Shia-led massacre of Sunnis (what might, in fact, be described as a genocide, assuming it's one-sided, which I wouldnt), will the Democrats take responsibility for that?
This is the flip side of the coin, isnt it? Yes, we did a bad thing invading the country. In fact, we've done hardly anything right since then. But, we broke it, and, as the saying goes, "you broke it, you buy it".
Should we get out of Iraq? Well, yes. But not because we dont belong there, (we dont), but because we havent got what it takes to clean up our mess. I'm not saying we couldnt do it; I'm saying we wont, because it'll hurt too much. So, like some cheap playa' who's knocked up one of his playthings, we're denying responsibility and taking off. If forced to, we might pony up a few bucks over the years towards raising this monster we've sired, but no way are we going to take the responsibility we owe this situation, because that'd really cramp our style.
What?! Give up our party lifestyle? Hey, why should I pay just 'cause she's got great assets? Besides, she seduced me.
We should have kept our rifle in our fatigues.
We never should have gone to Iraq in the first place. But we did. Now, like the dead-beat dads, we're going to abandon our love (hate) child to the vagaries of chance.
So, here's what I think we ought to do:
1. Institute a draft. Double or triple the number of soldiers in Iraq, and increase the number in Afghanistan tenfold (you remember Afghanistan, the country where al Queda actually was). Part of the problem our troops have always had is that there has never been enough of them.
2. Raise taxes. During WWII there was a 91% marginal tax on income over $200,000. Compare that to the Bush years where only the extremely rich have made gains. I'd be fair though, everybody gets a tax increase. 414 billion spent so far (or about $5000 per Iraqi**); somebody's got to pay for it, and it ought to be the people who initiated the war, and that's US (about $1300+ per American citizen).
3. Ration gasoline. What's gotten us into this mess? Our obscene thirst for fuel. There's a woman at my daughter's school who drives one block to pick up her child. That's beyond stupid, it's suicidal. How about an extra tax on any vehicle that gets less than 20 miles per gallon (an extra, extra tax on any non-commercial vehicle getting under 12mpg)? Higher taxes on gasoline powered recreational vehicles also, and we'll include vintage cars in that catagory. Iraq is just the latest in a 60 year-old mess created by our our feeling of entitlement about our seemingly endless thirst.
Nasty, huh. But, hey, War is Hell, or it ought to be. I'm not done, yet.
4. Investigate all information and "evidence" used to get us into this quagmire. During this investigation, for anyone who was involved in authorizing the torture of prisoners, torture will also be authorized for use in their questioning.
5. Investigate oil companies and oil prices. The biggest winners in this whole mess has been oil producers (except for the Iraqis, that is). And it's time for the "executive privilege" farce to end. Bush and his people are Public Servants, and the public deserves to know what he's done. In Detail. Which leads to...
6. No more secrets. Yes, some things need to be classified, but claims of "security" made by an administration more secretive than any even during the Cold War, yet which feels justified in outting a 20-year CIA veteran as political vengeance, are more than a little disingenuous.
7. In cases where laws have been broken, law-breakers need to be punished. Any and all. And lets start with those in positions of trust, not the foot-soldiers.
8. Any and all outsourcing and private contracts will be terminated, possibly with prejudice. The military will again take over any and all operations. Local workers will be used for local work, except for that done by the military for U.S. operations. All monies spent (save for covert operations) will be maintained and recorded in a transparent and auditable manner.
9. Remember War Bonds? I'd say bring them back, with higher interest rates pegged to lower purchase quantities, in order to encourage small investors to reverse the American trend away from personal savings. But this plan may not be possible.
Will any of this happen? Hell, no. This is a country that adamantly refuses to do anything that doesnt earn money (generally for someone politically connected). Even our government is more worried about money than it is about service. No, we'll pull out eventually, pretty much cementing our world-wide reputation as a nation that comes in swinging, busts shit up, then slinks out without paying the bill.
Except that we will pay the bill. This will cost us. Somehow.
Just in case you think I've lost my mind, I dont think we should be in Iraq. But we are, and we are morally obligated to clean up our mess. But I know we will not. And for me, that makes it all the more imperative that we hold those who led us into this mess accountable.
But even as we do, we should remember that we had a choice to follow or not, and then, after following, we had a chance to change our mind and our leadership. We failed at both. A change in leadership three and a half years after starting this war absolves us of nothing. Should this war ultimately lay the U.S. low, making our future nation a sad husk of its former self (think Italy compared to the glory of Rome, but without all the fine Art), then it will be nothing more than we deserve. We have, collectively, failed to live up to our nation's ideals.
Oh, and one last thing: The Iraqis are not a bunch of children. Once upon a time, mere years ago in fact, they ran their own country; refineries, airports, factories, police stations, etc, all by themselves. We showed up and busted everything wide open, made a big mess, and pushed people around (and out). If we leave, they may choose to kill each other, or they may choose to rebuild their country.
They may choose both.
But it will be their choice, made as grown-ups who probably have a pretty good idea of what they want. They may not all agree on the best course, but that's hardly a localized problem now, is it?
If we're really concerned about the Iraqis more than we are about our own skins (and oil thirst), we need to ask this question: Is our presence as much a problem as it is a solution? If the answer is yes, then we need to withdraw and concentrate on humanitarian aid (massive humanitarian aid) while the Iraqis sort out what's best for themselves.
Oh, and as for the original question, "If an American pullout results in a Shia-led massacre of Sunnis, will the Democrats take responsibility for that?", here's my answer:
If a cop catches a rapist in the act, and hauls him off to jail, should the cop be held responsible for child support should the victim get pregnant?
* addendum: It was a good question the first time I heard it, but now I'm pretty sure it's just a new Republican talking point, which, for me, removes a lot of the onus that the question might have had. Republicans dont get to moralize about Iraq.
** Next time, let's just bribe them.