Sunday, December 14, 2008

That's my President, you أنت غبي الأحمق

Before I say what I would like to say to the who threw his shoe at the President of the United States, let me clarify my position on the Iraq War.

1.  I originally supported this war.  I did not at the time we went to war in 2001 realize what was at stake, nor did I realize the erroneous conflation of the War on Terror with the War in Iraq.  I didn't even know that the War on Terror was an excuse dreamed up to permanently take my civil liberties, including habeas, and that it would provide a proving ground for things like Gitmo, stepped-up rendition, secret prisons, etc.  As I learned some things, I realized we were in an unjust war, and further, that our entire permanent war footing was untenable and unconstitutional.  I've been solidly against this war since mid-2004.  I may not have been right since the beginning, but I was honest enough to admit when I was wrong and change.

2.  I did not vote for President Bush in 2004, nor did I vote for McCain or Obama in 2008.  I am an anti-this-war old school conservative.  I repudiate everything the Neocons, who long ago hijacked the Bush Administration, stand for.

3.  I hope to hold the new President to his campaign promise - full withdrawal in 16 months.

That being said, my dear Iraqi journalist:

1.  I recognize that you are frustrated.  We have occupied your country for nearly a decade now.  Before that, we embargoed it and starved your children and elderly.  A million Iraqi children died because of those embargoes, and our Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, went on one of our television shows, 60 Minutes, and callously said that the price of those childrens' lives was "worth" what we were trying to do in Iraq - which you and I both know was to shore up our access to oil and put Iran on notice, among other things.  The idea of spreading democracy at the point of a sword is a tradition that dates back to Woodrow Wilson, but I assure you it is not a founding principle of what is left of the American Republic.

2.  I understand if you are angry.  You may have had relatives killed.  You may have had your job taken from you if you were subject to the unilateral anti-Baathification law that Paul Bremer laid down with no consultation and/or approval from anyone.  You may have been part of the army that we disbanded, which had a trickle-down effect on your family and your ability to provide.

3.  I understand that you want to show your frustration and anger.  This is the right of any human, and as someone who lives in a free country, know that the occupying soldiers and Marines - some of them my friends who I knew when I served in our military -  who are in your streets recognize that as well.

But please understand something.  We as Americans will not stand for such disrespect for the leader of our country.  Right or wrong, he is our President.  I assure you, I have not been light on him over the years.  But my disagreement for his policies would never translate into a physical attack on him.  And I have been a US citizen since birth.  I would argue that even the most vehement attackers of the President would not condone such behavior from fellow citizens.  But you are not a US citizen, and your behavior violated the most basic law of hospitality - a value much revered in an Islamic country and part of the world.  

Please be warned.  This President's good humor let you off the hook this time.  If you ever raise your hand in anger against his person (or his successor's person) again, you are likely to never hear the bullet which will enter your brain.  And no one, not here in America anyway, would shed a tear for you.

Please be patient.  We have elected a man who has promised to remove our occupying forces from your country in the next 16 months.  All we can do is hope.  That is easy for me to say, safe here from IEDs, roadside bombs, and rampant unemployment.  But I urge you, whatever the saying is in Arabic, it is as true as it renders in English - the pen is mightier than the sword.  Use your pen.  Mightily.

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