02 February 2008

Waging War

Back to cynicism. I just this evening watched a documentary entitled, "No Way Out" about the Iraq War, and those responsible for the interminable chaos that has been wrought there. War and killing is one of a very few issues that I cannot really see a good side of. More accurately, I cannot easily defend it, there is no good side often. In any event, the pacifist within in was almost brought to tears at one point in the documentary. Partly good film making, partly deep disturbance.

The documentary had been showing the point where the UN sent in its best team to try and make some sort of difference. The team had set up outside of the US Green Zone and was making recommendations to the US team with input from Iraqis and experience in the war zone. At one point we are brought to a scene of a press conference inside the UN headquarters. One is led to believe and indeed I was that we would hear the UN speak out against the US and their means of waging war. Instead there is a blast and the screen goes dark. This bang caught me so off guard that I jumped up. My heart racing the next scene is one of chaos as a camera light turns on to people moving about rubble, those living staggering and bloodied move towards light. A bomb exploded just outside the UN headquarters and killed some 20-40 (no memory for details) people including the top official heading the operation. The UN played one of the few "good" roles in the film which mostly depicted evil being replaced by more evil and being resisted by still more evil. It was a heartbreaking moment.

The war was freshly on my mind because it had been a topic of discussion in the editorial board meeting of the student newspaper I work for. We were discussing our collective opinion on the latest effort to support the war, some 70 billion more dollars to fund the war through the rest of Bush's administration. I would even argue that such a sum of money should not be kept in one sum, but rather distributed almost imediately, but the thought of using so much money on killing is terrifying. Indeed, this sum would bring total war funding to nearly 800 billion dollars if not more. (The documentary uses a Harvard study that included economic costs that brings the total loss due to the war to several trillion dollars.)

We were split on saying whether this funding was good or bad. The bad obviously being that it supports killing and the good saying that we need to keep the troops safe until their job can be done. The best conclusion we could arrive at collectively was that the public should know exactly how the money is being used. I can't disagree with that, but it's really neither here nor there at this point.

Talk has now shifted to getting out of the situation in Iraq. Indeed, it is a very complicated situation complete withdrawal would be nearly as devastating and continued military force. I argue though, that the situation so far is such that we aren't pressured enough to consider true withdrawal. The administration is still getting all the money it needs and congress just signs the bills and goes back to bickering. I argue that cutting off financial support is the best way to end the war and not just because we couldn't support a presence there without funds.

What better way to force discussion about and ideas towards withdrawal methods than to be forced with an ultimatum. If this nation truly does not wish to wage war, to kill, to be killed then allowing funding for the war is ridiculous, even to "protect" the troops. The way the money is spent likely won't do anything to protect the troops, but merely give the administration further cushion to ride the inactivity of congress. By cutting off funding we would make the war finite and force the administration to really work. Suddenly there would be real deadlines. This is the best way to bring about the best exit strategy. If there is indeed a middle ground we will not find it until we refuse to wage war. Until all that we hold dear as "American" is on the line. As far as I'm concerned any funding for the war is akin to supporting the Bush administration in every decision it has made to date about the war. We may clarify the spending with excuses like protecting Iraqis, US troops and Middle East stability, but nonetheless we are still writing checks to support violent armed struggle.

This is the best answer any candidate could give me, not dates of removing troops not plans for exiting, but a refusal to fund war and to force this nation to come to terms, see reality and figure things out. There is no black and white in this situation, but we will never see the grays if we ride the wave of apathy and simply wait for the best action to present itself.

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