Thursday, September 06, 2007

Did We Buy It?

During last night's debate for the Republican nomination, one of the lines that seems to be generating a lot of attention was delivered by candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas. Here is what happened: (the exchange is just past halfway down)

As the potential nominees were asked to weigh in on the War in Iraq, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas defended his position in favor of immediate withdrawal of all U.S.

"...The war has not gone well one bit. Yes, I would leave. I would leave completely. Why leave the troops in the region? It was the fact that we had troops in Saudi Arabia -- was one of the three reasons given for the attack on 9/11. So why leave them in the region? They don't want our troops on the Arabian Peninsula. We have no need for our national security to have troops on the Arabian Peninsula. And going into Iraq and Afghanistan and threatening Iran is the worst thing we can do for our national security. I am less safe, the American people are less safe for this..."

When it was Mike Huckabee's turn to answer a question on the topic, he responded directly to the comments of Congressman Paul, saying

"Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion the historians can have, but we're there We bought it because we broke it. We've got a responsibility to the honor of this country..."

Congressman Paul answered back arguing that the war is the responsibility of the small neoconservative cadre that "hijacked our foreign policy" and that the American people should not be punished by remaining bogged down there.

Huckabee's moment came here, when he shot back:

"Congressman, we are one nation. We can't be divided. We have to be one nation, under god. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country: the United States of
America, not the divided states of America."

Now there can be no doubt that Huckabee came through with a snappy line there, maybe it'll make him famous.

At Dick Polman's American Debate, the Huckabee's "we bought it" position is contextualized as being emblematic of the Republicans' struggle with the Iraq issue as potential nominees dance between remaining true to the majority of Republican voters that remain steadfast behind the war effort and the opposing views of the populace at-large.

Congressman Paul, fueled by his libertarian political ideology, has been against the war for quite some time. His views on the conflict are more similar to those of many democrats and progressives.

While many today are discussing the political efficacy of Huckabee's sound-bite (will it play? will it play in the public? will Huckabee play?), what about the argument?

How do you classify personal and national responsibility?

Is the post-Sadaam wave of sectarian strife the fault of the United States government?

What is the moral obligation of the United States government to the Iraqi people?

As a progressive myself, I have always thought this war was misguided, imperial, unjust, botched, etc., and of course I want it to be over. I want American soldiers to stop dying and I want Iraqi civilians to stop dying. Yet I am curious as to how those out there that are fervently calling for immediate withdrawal feel about the limits of our moral obligation to the lives of Iraqi civilians. Are there imaginable post-withdrawal scenarios for Iraqi citizens that make you uncomfortable with leaving? What are we already responsible for and what else could be added to the list?

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