Thursday, September 16

Kerry Needs the Courage to Walk Away from Iraq

Kerry Needs the Courage to Walk Away from Iraq

Published on Thursday, September 16, 2004 by the Miami Herald
Kerry Needs the Courage to Walk Away from Iraq
by Howard Zinn
If John Kerry wants to win, he must recognize that our military intervention in Iraq is a disaster -- for Americans, for Iraqis, for the world. He must stop boasting about his courage in Vietnam and instead start talking about his moral courage in opposing that war. He needs to stop saying, as he did recently in the Midwest, that he defended this country when he was fighting in Vietnam. That is not an honest statement. If it were true, then he would not have turned against the war.

I don't see the wisdom of this. Kerry is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to be both war-hero patriot and anti-war protesting patriot. What is most unfortunate is that the latter seems to dwarf the former. A reader recently sent me an e-mail pointing out what he thought the most defining question of this presidential race regarding Kerry: Will the American people elect a president that was a Vietnam war protestor? Since the jury is still out, I don't think Kerry should simply take refuge in the power of truth. When in the history of mankind has truth been more popular than lies? Since when has the mass of men been able to tell the difference between the two?

I agree that the true defense of our country came when Kerry fought to end that illegal, immoral, evil fucking war, but the American people aren't going to buy it with 2 months left b4 the election. And especially not in the middle of a war with Islamic terrorism. In the political environ in which we live, beating GW is more important than instructing the American people in true patriotism. They havn't accepted the argument b4. I don't see them changing now.

He was not defending this country when he fought in Vietnam. He was defending this country when he said that we were wrong to be in Vietnam and we should get out.
I couldn't agree more

He should not be saying that he will wage the Iraq War better, that he will replace U.S. troops with soldiers from other countries. If it is immoral for our soldiers to be occupying Iraq and killing Iraqis every day, then it is immoral for foreign soldiers to do the same.

While I agree, the fact remains that we broke it, now we bought it. It would be even worse to abandon Iraq now then it would to stay and see elections held. The sad part is that there is no solution for Iraq. It will almost inevitably turn out bad. This is what happens with elective war. You are by nature of the endeavor creating a monster. Control? Theres no such thing. We have to do our best to stabilize the country, hold elections, and then get the hell out. If we stay longer, we'll be there for years yet(We will anyway, but this is my world for the moment) The longer we stay the more Iraqi blood is on our hands and the more American blood is on theirs. So now bush has us in the business of balancing evil. Leave the country completely and maybe it splits up and wars devour the land for who knows how long or how many dead. Stay and more and more American soldiers will die along with countless Iraqi's.
The only thing to do is split the difference. Do all that can be don't within a given time and then get the hell out.

He should be clear: We are not defending our country by our war in Iraq, and we should get out.

Once again I agree with Zinn's point, but at this stage of the game saying that our soldiers in Iraq are not defending the country is about as dumb a thing as Kerry could do. The only thing the press and nation would get to hear is KERRY SPURNS SOLDIERS SACRIFICE. Not good I think.

He should stop saying what President Bush is saying, that we have to ''stay the course.'' We stayed the course in Vietnam and it cost more than 58,000 American lives and untold Vietnamese lives.

Agreed in this respect: Kerry should liken the no end in sight Iraq situation to Vietnam. Say there will be an end to American military intervention in Iraq under a Kerry presidency, not a drawn out war where American soldier after American soldier dies day after day. The longer we stay the more Iraqi deaths can be laid at our feet beside our own dear boys in uniform. One thing is certain. We have to get out as fast as humanly possible. I'm talking one year, to be clear. We must do the best we can within this frame and be willing to accept the consequences of Bush's dirty and disastrous war. Bush has drowned us all in a world of shit. America and Iraqi alike.

To those who say that we must not ''cut and run,'' Kerry can say, with some authority: We did cut and run in Vietnam, and it was the right thing to do.

Again, getting out is the right thing to do and that point should be made, but "cutting and running" is something very few agree with. Although what Zinn says here is true: cutting and running was the right thing to do in Vietnam- as many of us are aware, this would be politically stupid at this point. It's too late in the game to make nuanced statements. The press has no respect or understanding of nuance and neither does the mass of the American people. They're looking for absolutes. Foolish as it is to do so.

Kerry needs to stop talking about how he will be stronger than Bush and how he will do more for our national security. He should stop accepting the traditional definitions of strength and security.

He should say that strength should not be measured in military terms, but in moral terms. Did the possession of almost 10,000 nuclear weapons prevent Sept. 11? Will a $400 billion military budget make us stronger or weaker? Will our military actions diminish terrorism or increase it?

No doubt. This is precisely the kind of commen sense I wish were common.

Does not our strength lie in being an example to the world of a peace-loving nation, which uses its wealth not for bombs but for food and medicine, for our people and for others in need around the world? Should we not stop defining security in military terms, but talk instead of ''health security,'' ''job security,'' ``children's security''?

Of course we should. But the tail end of a presidential campaign is hardly the time to start challenging the mass of mens ideas of security. We're not trying to scare them. We want them to be sure Kerry is capable of fulfilling the traditional roll of the president.

This is not Utopian. It is what Americans have shown that they want, before they are made hysterical and fearful by government propaganda. It is not simply a moral program, but a winning program.

Unfortunately they already are hysterical and fearful because of government propaganda, and human nature plays its role of course.

William Lloyd Garrison, the great Massachusetts abolitionist, was urged by a friend to speak more cautiously. Garrison replied: ``Slavery, sir, will not be overthrown without excitement, a tremendous excitement.''

This aint slavery man.

War and corporate thievery will not be overthrown without excitement, either. Kerry, if he will stop being cautious, can create an excitement that will carry him into the White House and, more important, change the course of the nation.

I don't think caution is Kerry's enemy. I agree that he could create an excitement that would carry him into the WH if he spoke truth to the hearts and minds of the American people, but the truth he speaks must be carefully and cautiously chosen. There are things he could say to light up nearly every soul across our country. But is he enough in mind, body, and organization to know what to say and then do so. My God how I'm praying that he is.

Howard Zinn, who served as a bombardier in the Air Force in World War II, is author of the best-selling 'A People's History of the United States'

Howard Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States' is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a must. Doesn't matter who you are. Just FYI


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