"What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated? ... Primarily, it is a question less for man than for God -- less for human intellect than for the laws of nature to solve. It assumes that nature has erred; that the law of liberty is a mistake; that freedom, though a natural want of the human soul, can only be enjoyed at the expense of human welfare, and that men are better off in slavery than they would or could be in freedom; that slavery is the natural order of human relations, and that liberty is an experiment. What shall be done with them? Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone. They suffer by every interference, and succeed best by being let alone." ~ Frederick Douglass
Ike Skelton, Capitol Hill Genius
From the Washington Post comes a report of General Tommy Franks appearing before the House Armed Services Committee. Much verbiage is wasted on pointless sparring over whether resistance to U.S. occupation in Iraq qualifies as "guerrilla warfare" or does not yet. But just when you're ready to yawn and click to the next news link, along comes Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the senior Democrat on the panel, who says, "If the current pattern were left unchecked, the United States may find itself 'in the throes of guerrilla warfare for years.'"
So far so good. Now take a deep breath.
"Skelton added: 'We cannot leave Iraq. This has to be a success. If it's not a success, the credibility of the United States of America as a leader in this free world will hit rock bottom. We cannot allow that.'"
What the heck? Isn't Missouri supposed to be the "Show Me State?" Or has its motto changed to the "Snow Me State?" Every phrase in Skelton's quote is transparent nonsense.
"We cannot allow that." How old is Ike Skelton? Old enough, surely, to remember the 1960's, when many believed that we simply "could not allow" the Viet Cong to defeat us after we stuck our foot in Vietnam. No, no, it was unthinkable! It was unpatriotic even to suggest it! The credibility of the United States was at stake! Add a plethora of other empty platitudes and you get the picture. So, even in the face of ever-growing concern, this nation pressed thousands of young Americans into becoming cannon fodder, tore itself to pieces with cross-generational self-loathing, and murdered millions of innocent Vietnamese. It took years before reality finally overcame wishful thinking and we got the hell out.
For the record, it was all for nothing, absolutely nothing. All those deaths. All that Agent Orange, which still causes horrible birth defects to a seemingly endless succession of new generations of babies.
And all the once-healthy young men who made it home alive, but were twisted inside by what they had seen and what they had done. Many now occupy Skid Rows in cities all over this nation. Their names do not appear on the memorial wall, but their lives were also sacrificed, along with the dead, for the would-be aggrandizement of liars like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, men who deserved scorn, not obedience.
Do I like Communist governments? Hell no! Not any more than I like governments made up of thugs like George W. Bush. Both claim to represent justice and liberty, and both in reality represent theft and tyranny. But the fact that I don't like a government half way around the world does not empower me to use my own government in an attempt to overthrow it. My energies are better spent cleaning up the mess at home. And do we ever have one helluva mess! One need look no farther than Bush himself, who seems perversely determined to prove that he is a bigger liar and bigger warmonger than the disgraced Johnson and Nixon combined, and who seems well on his way to "victory" on both counts. I cannot WAIT to hear his plaintive whine when he reads about himself in the history books! Here's to minimizing the damage he does till then.
But we're forgetting poor Mr. Skelton. "This has to be a success." Ha! That recalls the old nursery rhyme, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." What Congressman Skelton can't seem to get through his head is that we cannot force the Iraqi people to bend to our will, any more than we could force the Vietnamese people to bend to our will. We aren't even doing a good job of trying! Screaming at people, busting into their homes, ignoring the rule of law--all these can only earn us increasing scorn and hatred, and we cannot possibly escape reaping the whirlwind.
Finally, "We cannot leave Iraq." Sorry, but we WILL leave Iraq, and not, I fear, in a very graceful manner. How badly do we have to be hit over the head before today's would-be empire builders admit we have lost? How many more Americans, and how many other citizens of the world, will have to die in yet another useless adventure?
I would suggest that the best possible outcome that can befall the United States of America regarding foreign excursions such as Iraq would be "for its credibility to hit rock bottom." Then we MIGHT get a little humility and common sense, and MIGHT learn not to throw our weight around the world like some drunken bully quite so often.
Heck, we might even get smart enough to toss War Party clowns like George W. Bush and Ike Skelton out of office at the first possible opportunity. Now that's something that Iraqis and patriotic Americans can both celebrate!