|[Note: I wrote this when the House of Representatives decided to give every congressman five minutes to speak on the proposed surge of troops in Iraq. Although I support the surge -- which is really mislabeled and actually a necessary change of tactics -- it was important to try to make the "five minutes" of those who opposed the surge. This ran on February 17, 2007, in the Rome (NY) Sentinel as an editorial.]
Congressman Michael Arcuri opposes the surge of troops in Iraq. Every house member gets five minutes to explain his or her vote. What follows is not Arcuri's statement, but one someone against the surge might give to be more constructive than many speeches that were given:
Five minutes is more than enough to explain that the surge alone will not bring our enemy to its knees or win for Iraq the peace it deserves.
While the surge will happen regardless, a vote against the surge sends the unmistakable message to Iraq that their present path leads only to a self-defeating cycle of violence -- one that puts their children in grave danger.
We know from experience. Our own Civil War cost fathers, sons, and brothers and cursed us with one hundred years of anguish. Iraqi civil war will lead not to one faction's victory, but to continuing cycles of revenge, death, destruction and poverty. Subjugation always leads to resentment. So long as neighbor distrusts neighbor, victory by any side will remain out of reach.
Iraqis can project which paths lead to bleak futures. One path remaining that offers hope for Iraqi children is the path that delivered for us. A sensible path, when neighbor distrusts neighbor, is to fashion a government that holds in check whichever neighbor achieves power. That makes sense, not because Americans practice it, but because:
- All sides can embrace constitutional limits on an unfettered majority.
- All sides can embrace assuring even the smallest voice can suggest a better way to do things.
- All sides can embrace sunshine laws because wherever power and secrecy combine, organizations of grand purpose can be misused.
This house vote can help steel Iraqi resolve to take charge. The Islamic "Insha'Allah" -- as God wills it -- like America's "In God we trust," shouldn't be used to abdicate responsibility. God's will isn't to sit idly by, but to use the judgment God gave us to:
- Put in charge those to do their best they can for all
- Avoid those who call themselves "chosen" but who were chosen by themselves
- Continuously check those in power because not all who claim expertise are expert.
America has no interest in imperial conquest -- amply demonstrated by the return to our shores after the two great world wars we fought. America, at its heart, is a humble nation, with profound respect for others, that practices democracy that codifies humility and respect. Precisely because experience has shown what works and what does not, America opposes terror, aggression, and oppression that elsewhere threaten the fabric of all society. No one should discount our courage and will to persevere.
With that in mind, Congress needs to complete three tasks:
- To assure the United Nations rediscovers its purpose. The U.N. found every excuse not to be decisive against Saddam Hussein's murder, oppression, aggression, and support for terror. Coalition action reminded the U.N. such behavior has no place in this world.
- To assure that terrorists do not mistake our push for Iraq to assume responsibility as a vote to give up. To remain internationally involved because American security depends on our will to oppose terror at every turn and make it unprofitable.
- To assure, most of all, that every American understands our governance is rooted in humility and respect. That means that while sometimes we may be mistaken, processes exist to continuously help us learn to do better.
By this vote we encourage Iraq to look to its future, in the hope that, for its own safety and security, its may wish to emulate the basic processes of government that have brought peace and quality of life to our families.