Monday, May 10, 2004

Open Letter - A First Draft

First draft of an open letter for use in the New York Times. Please leave critique and comments:

We, the undersigned, call upon the President of the United States to immediately withdraw our military forces from Iraq. Of the purposes enumerated by the Bush Administration in waging war in Iraq, a number have proven illusory, but others have been achieved. A rogue regime, which murdered and oppressed its own people, has been removed from power. The criminals who ran Iraq will suffer every penalty that the law provides for their crimes against the Iraqi people. The world is a better place for the achievement of these goals. However, the ultimate goal, to which we have devoted so much, creation of a stable and prosperous Iraq, will not be achieved through continued military occupation by the United States.

We strongly disagree with the prevailing assumption that rebirthing Iraq politically can be achieved primarily by armed force. Armed force can create order, but it can also create resistance, suffering, and chaos. Our occupation of Iraq increasingly results in the latter, not the former. Our leaders appear to suffer of the same institutional tunnel vision that escalated a prior war of occupation, while neglecting the underlying political causes of resistance: Vietnam. As the proverb says, "When you have a hammer, all the world looks like a nail." We must use all of the many means available to a super-power to achieve our goal; we must cease to rely on the use of force. Using more and more violence, despite violence repeatedly failing to achieve the desired results, is simply insanity.

The exhumation of a nation’s civil society, buried for decades beneath suspicion and hatred by a brutal dictatorship, will not occur in the midst of unrest and armed resistance to American occupation. The renaissance of Iraqi political life cannot be imposed from without, but can only be called forth from within the Iraqi people. They can rise to the challenge of creating a national identity based on mutual interests, mutual support, and mutual respect, but not during an increasingly brutal occupation. The true path to Iraqi political union lies not through submission to force or fear, but from the ties of community that grow only during peace. We must give Iraq peace, time, and control of their fate; not more warfare.

Many brave men and women of armed services from around the world have fought and died to fulfill an honorable duty to their respective nations, to the people of Iraq, and to the world. We mustn’t allow the promise for which their sacrifices were made to go unfulfilled, or spend even one more precious life pursuing that goal by inappropriate means. We best memorialize our honored dead with a reborn nation of Iraq, not with another monument to a failed war on the Mall.


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