Sunday, January 01, 2006

This is my first blog for the New Year: 2006


The news media are agreed (mostly) that the biggest story of 2005 was Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, at least for those of us who live in America. Yet the news was dominated daily by the war in Iraq.The question for the new year seems to be whether or not Iraq can be a success story after all these years of horrible pictures of violence, suffering and unrest created by the insurgency.

Even the most ardent liberal who may have opposed the war cannot hope for anything but a better outlook than we had in 2005. Perhaps the liberals who said,"Why Iraq? Why not North Korea or Iran?" following the kind of thinking which says we can bring democracy to the world, will admit that Iraq could have a very strong positive effect on our lives if events turn in our favor. Hopeful thinking even for the most pessimistic of us may show up in the year to come if the Iraqis take control of their country in a democratic and non-violent way.

George Packer has written a very depressing story of our involvement in Iraq in his 2005 book, "The Assassins' Gate." To read his account of the reasons we went to war, (not the reasons we were actually given by this administration) is to feel helpless and frustrated. Packer tells us he was an "ambivalently prowar liberal" who listened to his Iraqi-exile friends. We all can agree that Saddam was a monster, but Packer learned, as we have that transforming Iraq easily to a democracy was not to be, despite President Bush and his advisors telling us this optimistic scenario.

Packer spent a great deal of time in Iraq before writing his book. The terrible conduct of the war by our government following the military victory is underlined by the daily nightmares of ordinary Iraqis and our troops.
The war went from military success to deepening violence and daily chaos because of bad planning and terribly wrong taken for granted ideas.

Today we are no longer naiive. Reading Mr. Packer's book, "The Assassins' Gate" will give us needed information in our support of future choices in the United States involvement in Iraq in 2006. Please read and evaluate this book. And pray for a better year in Iraq.

No one could have predicted Katrina as the big story of 2005. Perhaps the big story of 2006 will be one of good sense and good actions. We can be optimistic if we are better informed.

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