In a recent post, I likened the war in Iraq to a tempest and questioned the wisdom of not only doing battle with â€œthe raging seas and the fierce windsâ€? but also seeking to vanquish such intractable forces with increased troops. Yet that is precisely what the quixotic Mr. Bush has chosen to do. In his radio address to the nation today, he reiterated his rationale and then responded to his many critics: â€œThose who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.â€?
Mr. Bush is wrong. And his statements reflect a lack of tolerance for contrary points of view and a narrowness of intellect. Is it necessary to know that the square root of 100 is 10 in order to know and assert that it is not 6? Centuries ago, if an Aztec citizen happened to believe that the practice of human sacrifice was foolish and cruel but his leaders believed that the rising of the sun or the success of crops depended upon such barbaric acts, should he have felt obligated to offer an alternative before heeding his conscience and speaking out? If the President of the United States is convinced beyond all reason and argument that he can conquer a tempest, is it really necessary that â€œthose who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for successâ€?? What if success is unattainable? Or if the endeavor is little more than a foolâ€™s errand?
Mr. Bush is also wrongâ€”and shows considerable chutzpahâ€”when he claims that â€œto oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.â€? What is truly irresponsible is to instigate a war on the basis of flawed ideology and intelligence, to declare the mission has been accomplished prematurely, to conduct the war like a lumbering boxer long past his prime, and to have no clear exit strategy for the conflict. To oppose this folly of a war is not only responsible but a civic duty! Those who as a matter of conscience or practicality propose ending or curtailing U.S. military operations in Iraq deserve to have their views considered rather than dismissed. Mr. Bush ought perhaps spend more time opening his eyes and ears and less time opening his mouth. The skies are darkening. Another tempest looms.