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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why I will join the antiwar protesters.

Antiwar rally near Park Street Station, Boston, January 11, 2007Here's the really short version: Even after listening to President Bush's "humble" call for 21,000 more troops in Iraq tonight, I can't identify any reasons to believe he deserves our trust or has yet identified a realistic strategic goal. "Success," he very improbably says, is a stable and democratic, non-sectarian Iraq protecting human rights, policing its own borders, and inspiring nations throughout the Middle East to forswear terrorism, violence, and Islamic extremism. What a beautiful dream. But I can't fathom how a temporary troop surge can make it possible.

More importantly, though, Bush's policies for the past four years have dug us and the Iraqi people into a dismal hole. I grant, to my horror, that Iraq faces terrible violence — perhaps no matter what we do — and that the war we launched has unleashed frightening instability in the region. But endorsing Bush's plan cannot keep that violence at bay anymore.

I do fear for what comes next. But Bush doesn't have a compelling plan. I'd love to endorse a better one, but I think my role as a citizen in this case is not to come up with a better foreign policy on my own; it's to put pressure on my government to come up with a worthy goal and a plan that stands a reasonable chance of achieving it.

So, on Thursday evening, I'll be in Boston Common with other protesters to register my dissent. You can also find vigils and protests in your area.

Update 1.26.07: The January 27 antiwar protests across the country will include these events in the Boston area. Dress warmly, ignore some of the crazy things the speakers will say, and be sure to let your congressional representatives and senators know how you feel about the way the Bush administration has driven us into the ditch.

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 10 January 2007 at 10:06 PM

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January 11, 2007 07:09 AM | Permalink for this comment

Is there going to be a UU or even UU bloggers' gathering area?

Bill Baar:

January 11, 2007 08:55 AM | Permalink for this comment

I was with Rumsfeld on the small foot print. I'm not certain what 21k more troops will do.

I think one of the mistakes was failing to chose Rumsfeld's plan and Chalabi; and instead going with the State Dept's plan for the CPA, Bremmer and occupation.

That said, if this is a Civil War, it reminds me of the Spanish Civil War where many Americans tried to avoid picking sides because it was hard to see any "good guys" between Fascists and Communist allied Republicans.

We should have picked a side, and we should have picked the Republicans.

That may be the mistake here. There are good guys in the Shia and Kurds, we should favor them and not let the Saudis and Whahabis spook us with the Iraniam card.

We've knocked away the lies in middle east politics. The fissures have been laid open in a complicated struggle. We ought to stick with people who come closest to defending Liberal values there.

It would be huge failure and disgrace to abandon these brave people.


January 11, 2007 10:22 AM | Permalink for this comment

Great! But the only thing that baffles me after reading your post is that I feel as if you need to justify your anti-war position.

I think that the ones who should need to justify their position are those who support the illegal occupation, the tortures, the killing of thousands of innocent civilians including many children, and the obliteration of a whole nation, leading the area to a situation of undeclared civil war, and the likely partition of the country in three faith- or ethnic-based states.


January 11, 2007 11:12 AM | Permalink for this comment

Fausto (and LT), I'll try to be near the Boston Common stone monument near the fence by Park Street. I'll email you both my cellphone number and we'll constitute a quorum. I'll also keep my ears open today about other gatherings of UUs at the Boston Common rally.

(If the rally moves away from the Park Street Station, we can find each other by phone.)

Bill Baar:

January 11, 2007 01:24 PM | Permalink for this comment


The empowerment of Shia Arabs and Kurds for the first time in the Middle East not to your liking. You've bought the Saudi\Whahabi line.

RaÔd Fahmi is an Iraqi Communist and current Iraqi Government Minister. He told the French Communist Daily l'Humanite (Translated by the American Communist Peoples World here.

What we need, is for those who support the independence of Iraq, and this countryís development, wherever they may be in the world, to express their solidarity for those who are fighting for these objectives. Unfortunately, stances have been taken by some of these forces which play in favor of political currents which are opposed to democracy. On the one hand, they talk about democracy and secularism, but in fact, they take positions which weaken, rather than reinforce the democratic and progressive trends in the country. Itís possible to establish a frank and sincere dialogue with the range of progressive forces, in Iraq and throughout the world, in a mutually respectful manner. This should be done with a view to achieving our shared goal for a peaceful, independent, unified and federal Iraq. We totally assume our choices and our politics because our primary responsibility is to the Iraqi population

It's expressions of Solidarity we should be making. Gods save us if what we do ...weakens, rather than reinforce the democratic and progressive trends...

It's hugely shameful thing to do that in the name of Peace. We should stand with the Iraqi Communist, the Shia united behind Sistani, the Kurds, and whatever progressive Sunnis will join.


January 11, 2007 01:40 PM | Permalink for this comment

UUA President Bill Sinkford's open letter to President Bush has been published on


January 11, 2007 01:54 PM | Permalink for this comment

Although I share Bill Baar's interest in promoting liberal democracy in the Middle East, I concluded long ago that Bush has no viable strategy for making it real — aside from Michael Gerson's speeches — and that he has effectively undermined the prospects for sustainable democratic reforms at almost every turn. Although Bush still talks about "democracy," he has defined it down to the point where success might mean little more than a functioning state, a condition hardly better than pre-invasion Iraq. The bitter truth now is that the U.S. presence in Iraq can't help secular liberals there. I fear, Bill, that you are dreaming a beautiful dream that obscures a bloody and desperate reality.

Meanwhile, for a sober view from one of your fellow Euston Manifesto signers, see UU blogger Stephen Retherford's comments at Sisyphus.

Bill Baar:

January 11, 2007 02:12 PM | Permalink for this comment

Forget Bush then, read Iraqi MP Iyad Jamal Al-Din's transcript from Al Jeezera.

Interviewer: Democracy has resulted in what is now happening in Iraq.

Iyad Jamal Al-Din: The result of democracy... We don't know... We are very far from liberty. Do we even know what to do with the values of liberty? The moment Saddam's club was lifted from over our heads, each and every one of us wanted to assume Saddam's personality. We had one Saddam, and now we have six, seven, ten, or fifteen Saddams. We now have local mini-Saddams. I said this before the war. I said that America would do us a favor by ridding us of Saddam the dictator, but that this favor would be incomplete unless it rids us of the opposition parties. But this did not happen during the war. These people are photo-copies of Saddam. Saddam was in power for 35 years, and so was the leader of this or that opposition party - not only in Iraq, but in all Arab and Islamic countries. The opposition is the mirror image of the regime. If we want to simplify matters, how come Hosni Mubarak has ruled for 23 power? I want to rule in his place, not because I want to change the nature of the regime, to make it a democracy, which respects human beings and private property... We are still far from all this. Therefore, in my opinion, democracy can be established in our region only through force. Democracy must be established by force, and only America can do it.

The challange is to you, I, and all Americans Chris, and the question is are we up to it.

Bill Baar:

January 11, 2007 02:17 PM | Permalink for this comment

As for Sisyphus, he was long opposed to Rumsfeld and the small foot print; now we get Gates and a medium foot print he's skeptical about that.

The key thing for me is Social Justice trumps the Peace movement. There are things worth fighting for and helping our allies in Iraq clearly one of them.


January 11, 2007 03:24 PM | Permalink for this comment

Bill, it is a typical defect of Neocon thinkers to believe that opposition to the murder and violence committed by the Bush administration is a sign of being aligned with the Islamic Fundamentalists. It belongs to that religious philosophy that was proclaimed by Mani in that same area almost 2,000 years ago. I suggest that you open your mind to other possibilities rather than swallowing up the official propaganda.

Bush did not start this war to "empower" Kurds and Shiites. It has not been about "bringing democracy", that's the lullaby that is sung from the White House and partisan media for those adults who apparently still believe in Santa Claus. It is about the power struggle in the Middle East and the control of the distribution channels of energy sources.

The Kurds were convenient allies who had been ignored and abandoned by the Western powers for more than a century. They have every right to rule their northern land and it is only a shame that their freedom has been bought for them by slaughtering huge numbers of Arab civil population in the South.

As for the Shia, if you think that Muqtada al-Sadr is a democratic leader, I suggest that you look at him twice. Yes, the USA has "empowered" him a lot, thank you very much. And the Shia country next door, Iran, is very happy that the Bush blunder has given them huge influence over not just the all-important oil-rich area of the gulf, but also in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.


January 11, 2007 05:06 PM | Permalink for this comment

From todayís Washington Post:

"It's bad policy to speculate on what you'll do if a plan fails when you're trying to make a plan work," Rice replied.

Isnít it this kind of thinking that caused us to be in this mess?

Bill Baar:

January 11, 2007 08:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

Bush did not start this war to "empower" Kurds and Shiites.

It's the outcome Iraq got though. It's why the Whahabi's blew up the al Askariya mosque.

The Muslim world didn't unite against the United States when we invaded Iraq as so many opponents told us it would. No, now were told it's a Civil War we should redeploy away from. Obama tells us we don't baby sit Civil Wars.

If it's a Civil War, we ought pick sides, and not wash our hands of it.

The sides seem clear enough too me. As clear as anything in life.


January 12, 2007 09:48 AM | Permalink for this comment

Shame on you, Jaume. The UU tent is big enough, or at least is supposed to be, to allow room even for believers in Santa Claus!

More seriously, Muqtada al-Sadr is already the de facto ruler of Iraq. All the rest is only mop-up or window dressing. Our only meaningful choice at this point is whether to declare total war on him and his Mahdi Army and prosecute it to victory with the full mobilization and might of the entire United States in a mode not seen since WWII, support him and help consolidate his power, or concede the field. Bush is not even willing to recognize that choice, much less choose.


January 12, 2007 10:01 AM | Permalink for this comment

Bill, why should we choose sides in a civil war?

At the time of our own Civil War, the dominant power in the world was Great Britain, and the British economy was dominated by textile manufacturing, and the agrarian American South supplied its raw material, and the industrializing American North threatened its world manufacturing monopoly. By your reasoning, Britain should have formed a military alliance with the Confederacy and sent its own combat forces to defeat the Union, rather than providing only the passive support that it did.

The question is: why didn't they, and why don't the same reasons apply to us today?

(The answer begins at Lexington and Concord.)

Lynn Gazis-Sax:

January 12, 2007 03:35 PM | Permalink for this comment

At this point, I'm wondering when I'm going to see even a reasonable goal and a plan that stands a snowball's chance in hell of achieving it.

h sofia:

January 13, 2007 02:45 PM | Permalink for this comment

I read Martin Luther King, Jr's Beyond Vietnam speech and want to cry. We are repeating recent history, and it is pathetic.


January 13, 2007 09:07 PM | Permalink for this comment

Heh. Did you notice King closed his speech with the words of a Unitarian poet!?

Unfortunately, we're not repeating all of our recent history, I'm afraid. Over on The Socinian, I lament the lack of such courage and leadership in the moral opposition (i. e., our side) this time around.

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