I am listening at this moment to the Senate hearings featuring testimony by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. These are impressive men who are in a tough spot. They believe in their mission. They testify that their work is not only effective but also necessary to improving American security. But this: Even if what they say is accurate – I do not question their honesty or integrity – we must put the efforts in Iraq in context of other equally important events.
The American Military is investing itself in nation building – does anyone question this? We, America, are building a modern infrastructure in Iraq. New roads. New bridges. New power plants. New municipalities. New public safety organizations such as police and fire protection. New hospitals. A new system of education, new schools, new opportunities for the Iraqi people. New jobs. We are rebuilding their ability to collect, refine, and distribute oil. We are building a sound economic base for the future prosperity of the Iraqi people.
All of these endeavors are noble. No one questions that nobility. We are, at our root values, a Christian nation. We believe in helping others. We believe in education and health care. We believe in public safety. We believe in sound economies that provide prosperity for all people. Does anyone question this?
Now for the anecdotal argument – Our own country has a faltering infrastructure – our roads and bridges are crumbling. Fifty million Americans do not have adequate health care. Our high school drop out rates are at all time highs. We cannot build prisons fast enough to house our growing criminal population. Drug trafficking is destroying our youth. Unemployment is rising.
The philosophy is simple – charity begins at home. I have a duty to my family before I have a duty to my neighbor. Do I deny my neighbor assistance – not if I can help it. Do I rescue my neighbor’s children from hunger while my own children are crying for food?
Put into the context of the world in 2008 we have to ask: Is the future of Iraq more important than the future of America?
Some will say that this is too simple an analogy. The world is more complex than the simple argument presented in this post.
But I think it is this simple.