A little while ago, I had a rare political discussion with my Dad via email. It was initiated by the first two "Republican Dad" articles, which made me extraordinarily happy -- my first goal was simply to get my Dad (and others) to read this stuff.
Dad had many interesting and compelling things to say, the most striking of which was this:
I hear what Dad is saying -- I'm a registered Democrat, but few are more pissed than I about my party's abandonment of the Progressive ideal in favor of corporate dollars and "appealing to the center." What's more, his comments about "following blindly ... what the media decides" are exactly what I'm trying to counter with these articles -- I hope to show a side of the debate that may not normally be seen by my target audience, so they can make decisions armed with more, varied information. Anyway, what Dad said is exactly what I was counting on: Dad is one of the smartest (perhaps the smartest), most independent-minded men I know, and because of that, I have hope to sway his vote away from George W. Bush in November's election. He's stubborn, and sometimes set in his ways, but if he were a Republican party shill, I wouldn't have bothered. It's because I know he's a rational, logical person with his own mind that I'm even writing these articles. Here's hoping your dad is the same.
So, we move from the mis-named "My Republican Dad" to the more appropriate "My Conservative Dad." And in this issue, I wanna take a short look at the War in Iraq. I was saving this for later in the summer, and I may focus on it again in the future. But I heard something late this week on NPR that startled and angered me. After the horrific beheading of American contractor Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia, one of NPR's commentators said that Bush's approval ratings will likely get a 4-5 point bounce as a show of support for his "War on Terror" in Iraq. Upon hearing this, I pounded on my steering wheel, shouting and honking and gesturing wildly -- surely the folks in neighboring cars heading south on the 101 must have thought I was an epileptic. But what I was screaming is this: If Bush had not launched his poorly planned War and Occupation of Choice in Iraq, Paul Johnson would still be alive today. It is as simple as that. Yes, terrorism would have continued to be a threat, with or without the war. Yes, an international "War on Terrorism" is an important part of the fabric of our world (newsflash: it was so before 9/11 in most of the world -- we just didn't care). Yes, the war is a complicated matter, and our relationship with the nations of the middle-east is informed by complex, nuanced layers of political, idealogical and economic realities, about which precious few in our nation are experts. But it is clear our war in Iraq was willful, unnecessary, and ill-planned, and these acts of terrorism, of murder, against us and against our allies are a direct result of that arrogant, unecessary war and the chaotic and bloody occupation that continues today. It's not a statement you're likely to hear on the radio, or see on TV, but I firmly believe it is true. If it weren't for Bush's war, Paul Johnson would be alive today, and his death should NOT encourage support for Bush and his administration. I condemn the terrorists -- they should be hunted down (these particular guys have been, though too late) and charged with a host of crimes. But we cannot pretend that our administration's arrogance, bloodthirstiness, and ultimate incompetence did not play a great part in these terrible events.
More thoughts on Iraq (I've included more "opinion" than in previous "Dad" articles, but I think informed opinion is important here.):
*A note. All of these articles are availible to read for free. Salon.com articles require you sit through a 15 second advertsiement in order to receive a "Day Pass" to Salon content. Other sites may do the same. It's painless, I assure you, and worth it.