Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Iraq: What Next?

Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. I feel like I should say something, but what is there for me to say? My meager mind cannot begin to grasp the magnitude of this conflict, nor does it want to. I follow the news and analysis like everybody else, of course, but the impact on my psyche is always shortlived. There is no real connection, no point of contact, between my day-to-day life and the horror experienced every moment by our soldiers and the Iraqi people. I confess my callousness; most of the time, I just don't care.

In the most recent New Republic, seventeen experts try to answer the question "Iraq: What Next?". The answers, as indicated the titles of the articles, are all over the map. Robert Kagan wants to "Send More Troops", while David Rieff says "Bring the Troops Home." Peter Galbraith thinks the best approach is to "Divide Iraq", while Reza Aslan believes we should "Keep it Whole." Three articles focus on the troublesome Sunnis: "Deal with the Sunnis", "Crush the Sunnis", "Ally with the Sunnis". Leon Wieseltier, not ready to give up, but also completely out of ideas, says "Try Anything" - desperation as foreign policy. Apparently, the only consensus is that there is no consensus; all options are terrible.

Lately, the debate among our political and media elites has focused on whether Iraq is in a state of civil war. To which I say: who gives a f*ck? Why are we quibbling about semantics when the situation on the ground is so appalling? Does anybody really think that our troops care whether the conflict meets the technical definition of a civil war? The reality of Iraq is too messy for the textbooks, too ugly to fit nicely into anyone's political ideology, conservative or liberal. So let's forgo the bullshit and the talking points, as well as the ridiculous calls for "moral clarity". All the clarity is gone, and the morals of everyone involved are nothing but filthy rags.

Given that a satisfactory conclusion to this bloody struggle is now a human impossibility, there is nothing left for the Church to do but pray, fervently and unceasingly. We must pray for peace, but also for forgiveness. The Iraq war has revealed, as few events in our history have, the hubris and sinfulness of humanity, and we all deserve a portion of the blame: Iraqis and Americans, Republicans and Democrats, Sunnis and Shiite. Let us pray together for deliverance.

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