Although there are no scraps of good news from Iraq, America will emerge from the debacle eventually, and it will do so a changed nation. In many ways, the U.S. could become a better nation. Events are already unfolding that way in several areas:
--The Bush White House gave up its program of wiretapping without legal sanction. They offered no reason for putting wiretapping back under the scrutiny of the courts (where they belonged in the first place). The public doesn't care about this issue, but wiretapping is one area where Bush administration operated as a secret shadow government. Thanks to Democratic opposition, they have failed--at least on one front--and future administrations are less likely to try the same tactic. Never explain and never apologize, the standard mode of operation for Bush, is ruthlessly anti-democratic. Hopefully millions of people now see that.
-- A recent broad study of suicide bombings in the world--of which there have been between 350-450 since 1991, including both the Middle East and Sri Lanka--has led to a surprising finding. Rather than being chiefly motivated by religious fanaticism, suicide bombers are more likely to be outraged by foreign occupation.
If that's true, the U.S. has a chance to achieve some real security without losing more lives. This nation can pull its military presence out of the Middle East, reducing it to the bare minimum. (Pres. Reagan pulled our troops out of Lebanon in 1983 in the wake of losing hundreds of Marines in a Hezbollah bombing attack, and since then the number of American deaths attributed to Hezbollah is zero.) Al-Qaida's original complaint, was the U.S. troops in the Islamic holy land. Foreign occupation is also the complaint of ordinary Iraqi citizens, as well as of Palestinians toward Israel. There is no viable reason to keep a massive military presence where it isn't needed or wanted. This is one case where the shoe fits on the other foot: Wouldn't America be outraged if Saudi Arabia stationed troops in this country?
-- The Iraq war has struck a blow against de facto colonialism. The right-wingers who plunged us into the conflict were staging the modern equivalent of gun-boat diplomacy. They had nor regard for Iraqi history or culture. They could have cared less about who they were fighting against or who they were helping. Now the U.S. has witnessed what happens when an outside culture disturbs a society without foreknowledge and respect. It's a mistake this country is much less likely to repeat again soon.
Ultimately, these small pieces of good news, should they shape the future, amount to little until the greatest lesson of Iraq is learned. America is headed for disaster if it keeps asserting itself as a military super power. Few people noticed a small item that appeared in the news last December, where it was noted that once again the U.S. was the largest arms dealer in the world. It is shameful that our economy remains tied up with militarism and mechanized death. One hopes that the next generation will turn the tide around, because as long as war is good for business, our ideals will continue to suffocate.
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