Friday, August 24, 2007

Rep. Brian Baird - "Our troops have earned more time"

Rep. Baird has an opinion piece running in the Seattle Times today.

read it here.

Rep. Baird did not vote for the war in Iraq. He has recently returned from Iraq and has seen some progress.

"You may think you can walk away from Iraq," I was told by one leader. "We cannot. We live here and have to deal with the consequences of what your nation has done. So will you eventually, if the Iraq conflict spreads and extremists bring us down as well."

I do not know the details of what the September report will contain, but I trust and respect Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. I have seen firsthand the progress they have made, and I firmly believe we must give them the time and resources they need to succeed.

Though we would all wish this conflict would end tomorrow, it will not. We are going to have to begin to withdraw troops next spring because our equipment and our soldiers are wearing out. However, even with the progress that has been made of late, we will have a significant military and civilian role in Iraq and the region for some time to come. That is the price we must all pay for the decision to invade. We cannot shirk that responsibility.

I hope that you all read the honorable gentleman's words in print today. They are not awe-inspiring or optimistic, but they are heartfelt and even a little tough. There seems to be a real problem with telling the truth in our political process, even when the problems are staring you right in the face. Social Security is the perfect example of this. The problem is well known and there can be only two correct answers, raise taxes or cut benefits. What do you do if neither option is politically possible? Wait until the problem further develops and defines itself.

Iraq is in many respects similar. The problem is that we went in and destroyed a country for weapons that weren't there. Tore down every single social institution so that we could rebuild them again. We essentially destabilized the country to the point where there is no civil order. This is the kind of environment where violence thrives. There is no check on aggression by society, it could only come from individuals.

One thing that Rep. Baird understands is that a vote to withdraw is not the same as a vote to go to war. Peace activists seem to think that they can put humpty-dumpty back together again if they remove the US from the equation. Iraq already had a power vacuum after we removed Baathist from the bureaucracy and disbanded the military and police forces. What will the next power vacuum be like if we were to abandon the war and leave nothing to assume our role?

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