Friday, November 18, 2005

Abandoning Iraq Would be Immoral

Rep. John Murtha made news this week calling for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq. The Democrats are on an all-out offensive against President Bush regarding the war: they are accusing him of lying to them and the nation about the threat from Iraq prior to the war, and challenging his management of the war.

I'm no military expert, but the war seems to be going significantly better than about a year ago. This time last year, it seemed only the Kurds were allied with us; now, it appears we have the Kurds, and the Shi'ites, and a growing number of Sunnis are turning against the terrorists. Last year, we hoped we could cultivate a constituency for a democratic, rights-based government; now, it appears all three major groups are entering into the political process. Last year, the administration said the enemy were nothing more than "Ba'athist dead-enders" and that seemed dubious; this year, that explanation is actually plausible.

With all that, I really don't know; but things do seem to be moving in a good direction now; yet members of Congress are now turning against the war. "Time to pull out!"

One of the more loathsome arguments for this is to point to the American war dead. That's not a moral argument, but a political one. Every lost American life is something to grieve; but no moreso than the loss of Iraqi lives.

The war, once begun, must be resolved the right way--bringing peace and justice to Iraq. This country launched this war--rightly or wrongly--and it is this country's moral obligation to stay committed until Iraq is stable and able to stand on its own. If that means more casualties for our armed forces, then that is the consequence of our national policy, and demanded by national honor.

In case anyone wants to make insinuations: I have never voted for President George W. Bush (I voted third-party); I did not agree with his decision to launch this war.

But we're at war now, and the people of Iraq are depending on us.


Anonymous said...

I tend to suspect that you might be right on this. The one thought, though, that keeps suggesting itself to me is whether the very presence of the American occupation might not be fueling the insurgency and contributing to the disorder. It is, I think, open for debate whether the withdrawal of foreign (our) troops would let loose long-term chaos in Iraq or lead to a cooling of tensions. If the latter would be the eventual outcome, perhaps a bit of short-term chaos would be an acceptable price for a pullout.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Thanks for visiting my blog.

I agree that it is conceivable that withdrawal might work to the long-term advantage of the people of Iraq; and if that be the case, I pray the President pursues that path.

However, the President can hardly say that's what he's going to do. And when Bush's opponents push the point, it seems to me that complicates his decision-making.

My sense is that everything points to, if not demands, U.S. forces will be "drawn down"; it simply costs too much (by every measure) to keep them there, it complicates our foreign policy and military posture, and the public would never tolerate keeping them there indefinitely.

Finally, while completely agreeing with your last sentence, I have no idea how the President (or anyone else) might make that decision! It was bad enough to be wrong about the WMDs; imagine making the wrong call about "short-term chaos"!

Anonymous said...

Father, I disagree with you on not going into Iraq and think that after 9/11, it would have been irresponsible not to go in with all the information available and that included the long drumbeat of most of the Democratic Party calling for us to go in and for regime change based on the info that Clinton had at that time. If he had not gone in, the Democrats would have been yelling why not and if there had been an attack traced back to Iraq, there would have been calls for impeachment.
I think the mistake was not finishing off all those who were there to fight before we started making the peace. We defeated Japan and Germany with almost total distruction before rebuilding them. We should have continued to use the full force of the military to stop all forms of violence first and then started to rebuild. We had firebombed cities in Japan and dropped two atomic bombs on them before they gave up and then we still went in with major troop strength. My uncle was part of this contingent and his stories have stayed with me to this day. Iraq and Japan had one thing in common and that is the willing use of suicide to kill. If we are going to fight, we cannot stop half way and have anything but what we now have. As far as our presence creating the issue, leaving would confirm what the Islamic nuts have been saying for years that the US does not have the staying power or will. We ran in VietNam, we ran in Somalia, we ran in Beruit, and if we leave now after 9/11, you can be sure that this will empower them and they will be back here. Evil only understands our willingness to go all the way. The Church is here today because in the face of evil, martyrs were willing to give everything of themselves for her. Evil will never stop and lives on the flesh of the weak. Reagan and JPII won not though weakness but through convincing evil that they would not stop and would not go away. Evil tried to shoot these two men and I believe both were saved to end the evil of communism that had so many suffering. By not finishing off all vestiges of evil in Iraq before we stopped, we allowed it to fester. We did not show everyone that the war would only stop when they had given up this way of life called terror. As priests, you should be seeing evil each and every day. Can you run away from it or hide from it? If you do, when you pull your head from hiding, is it weaker or stronger? You are Gods first line of defense for his children and He has honored you with vocation to fight in this war. I am honored when I am in your presence and pray for you daily.

Mark Anthony said...

Hey, joeh, ever heard of a Manichaean? You skate terribly close to being one, which I am sure is not your intention. A Manichaean views the world as the battleground between good and evil, light and dark, locked in a neverending struggle for dominance. Augustine was a Manichaean, before he became a Christian.

Still, a lot of Christians tend to drift toward Manichaeanism. One of the main signs of such a tendency is to grant evil more power than it really has. We can become consumed with fear and loathing of Evil, so that life becomes a bitter struggle against a foe that grows to such a size and power in our minds that it seems omnipresent and unexhaustingly powerful.

When we let the reality of evil in our world, and no sane person could deny its presence, become the controlling factor in our worldview, then it can blot out the truth of the Faith. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was not the first shot in a long war, but the definitive victory. We are not so much warriors as victors.

We do not live in a dark world with some islands of light, but in a bright world with some pockets of darkness -- thanks be to Christ who makes it true! St. Paul implores us to "Rejoice! I say it again, rejoice!" And don't forget the proclamation of that ex-Manichaean, St. Augustine: "Alleluia! We are an Easter people!"

You are in my prayers, joeh. I hope I will be in yours too.

Anonymous said...

Mark, I will think a lot about what you say and will pray about it as well. You are right, I do see humanity at war and that war as raging between good and evil within us. I do not see Satan or evil as being anywhere close to God in power and do believe that Christ died on the cross and rose to open the doors to heaven for us. However, the gate is narrow and some who do not see the war of good and evil within us or within our society are often lost in the love of God without realizing that we are also to have a healthy fear of God. Satan is real and he is very powerful. God calls for us to have the faith of a mustard seed and if we do, we could move mountains. I haven't seen many mountains moved recently. The size of a mustard seed is indeed very small and thus very delicate and easily lost if one rumbles about the world apart from the rock we cling to. I do not see myself as a Manichaeanism for they believed there was no omnipotent good power and thus walked alone in the war. I do not believe we have to walk alone, but believe many do including myself on way to many occasions. It is an almost equal mixture of His love and my fear of God that often draws me back from the cliff. One thing is sure, I am still here and still believe, not by my stregth, but by sheer amazing grace and merciful love that I struggle to understand every day of my life.
I will keep you in my prayers as well and appreciate your comments. And to you I say, remember to keep a healthy fear of God for He asks for nothing less than for us to love Him over everything else with our whole heart, soul, and mind. I cling to His Church for it is hear, in the actual teaching of the Church that I have found truth and beauty, but a very narrow path.

Anonymous said...

It can reasonably be argued that the Vietnam War was lost here in the U.S. Throughout the '70s Congress went about yanking funding for military operations (things like money for aircraft sorties in SE Asia) and passing restrictive legislation on military assistance, which contributed greatly to our ignoble capitulation to the NVA. Could one not argue it was they who refused to enforce the treaty of 1973, signed in good faith by the United States? Joeh is quite correct that this did great harm to our credibility - lessons that surely lead people like bin Laden, Hussein and Zarqawi to think us weak and beatable.

We should not entirely discount Murtha's call, although it seems to be a minority position at this time: if it happens, we will one day see this as a starting point!!! I was quite pleased by Congress's newest member, Cincinnati's Jean Schmidt. It may not have been PC - and perhaps was even out of line - but I also think it was a great piece of rhetoric!

May I say, the Manichaean analogy is a bit simplistic. Yes, Christ's death and resurrection were the definitive victory. However history continues onward, and there has been and could well be great human suffering in the future, which we have a responsibility to mitigate. Yes, Christ reigns eternal, but I hardly think Joeh is exaggerating the power of evil: at least 50-70 million people were murdered in the secular wars of the 20th century. That is a number without precedent in human history and we must not minimize this. While it is correct that history is redeemed, to quote the Holy Father, we do not yet know through what ups and downs we will pass until then. Ronald Reagan held that freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction and there is truth in this. God respects the free will of his creations, which sometimes is freedom to do great, unspeakable evil. Therefore while trusting in God's infinite Providence, we must also be vigilant and use our God-given intellects and industry to guard against evil - all while imploring the infinite grace of Our Blessed Lord, of course.