Kerry Had It Right: Set a Date!

The thinking that we should not set a date for withdrawal is probably wrong. Sen. John  Kerry believes that setting a date will put the pressure on, nay, force the Iraqi leadership to compromise among the major factions on the hard choices. A deadline.  A finish line. It ends here. A goal line. Just get it done. It’s your wedding date. Your birthday. We’ve had the fun of conception. It’s the time for the birth pangs. Push! Push! Push!  We all work toward deadlines, schedules, well defined objectives, final exams, graduation day. Kick off. Final gun. It’s our culture. Is that culture over there not ruled by time constraints? The regular paycheck? A time to shop? Shops open. Shops close. A holiday, on schedule.

When I taught classes, I would have a series of behavioral objectives, by which any observer could plainly see whether the learner had met the objective or not. I just had to define and communicate them clearly in advance of the learning experiences. There were behavioral tests of accomplishment. The Iraqi “clasroom” seems to be absent any of that. Benchmarks. Roadmaps. Milestones. Rather, behavioral objectives. What are the specific, observable behaviors that would indicate progress in governance skills, and which are announced to the world? By the appointed time! Pressure to produce. Who fails? The instructor or the student? Either would have to acknowledge failure. Perhaps both.

If the Iraqi people are the fearless, intelligent people we believe they are, they could graduate with honors. The entire Islamic world needs to take part in helping us help them, for beginners, to quell the mayhem.

What would failure look like?

We might have to stand up and say we have failed. Democracy cannot be imposed from without. We were wrong to intervene, in preempting the people’s “right” to revolt and throw off their oppressor. We were wrong not to control, first, the chaos of looting where suddenly people free of tyranny had no compass, and then the factionalism that we, out of our ignorance, did not foresee. We went to a place armed only with the ignorant confidence of military might and dumb adherence to an ideology of revenge for 911 and for papa’s failure to finish the job when he had the chance. (Some will interject the imperialism that follows cheap oil.)  We should, however, stop beating that dead horse. The historians will pick clean those bones, and a “legacy” will go down in flames.

The apologies of losers will come first, at least I hope we will see that courageous act, by which the apologist will surely lose face. Since we have politicians who do not know how to admit “mistakes”, we will have the recriminatory speeches ad nauseum. That will mark our failure more than any admissions of failure.

Yes, failure will be an ugly picture to hang in the halls of our history. We have seldom seen that, except in the Viet Nam adventure. As we withdraw, the flames we leave behind will burn the Iraqi people and purify it for taking on the government that will rise out of the ashes.  It might be another theocracy. However, a seed was planted in a brief moment that may be given a chance to grow. In a forest fire, seeds are released into the soil, and a new forest will grow. In its own time. Several of human lifetimes.

One recent model is Germany, the Weimar Republic, sandwiched between monarchy and facism.


Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 3:01 pm  Comments (1)  

One Comment

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