Let cooler heads prevail

Issues as important as war and peace, with human life and the future of liberty at stake, must be weighed dispassionately. Cool-headed rationale and precise calculation must be applied to conclude the Iraqi conflict correctly; defining a responsible exit strategy requires pragmatism, not passion. The stakes are high and our actions over the coming months and years have historical consequences. Anti-war protesters should take a second look at their opposition, for reflection and re-examination of oneâÄôs beliefs is also an important part of social responsibility. I can certainly empathize with the zeal of the most passionate protesters; the issue that inspires the most vehement objection âÄî the war in Iraq âÄî provokes the same passion within me. A deployment of 16 months has stirred a full spectrum of sentiments concerning this war. God bless the protester. Driven by an impassioned commitment to political progress and fighting social injustice, there are few more deserving of respect. At this yearâÄôs Republican National Convention there is no shortage of issues worthy of protest: rising poverty rates, global warming and the United StatesâÄô declining status around the globe. Take your pick from a colossal list. The socially conscientious are passionate about their protest and I salute their commitment to stirring national discourse. I have come full circle, from delusional optimism to short-sighted pessimism. I have agonized over the aptness on this war and held countering beliefs over its duration, spewing pro-war propaganda at one point, only to later declare the whole effort hopeless. In each declaration my passions âÄî fervent hope on one end and bitter resentment on the other âÄîdictated my position. Being guided by oneâÄôs passion is usually an asset, but not when weighing such momentous matters. When commitment to a particular cause becomes too great, rationale can become distorted, and to abandon oneâÄôs position represents a betrayal of oneself. For this reason we tend to hold onto beliefs long after their expiration date, and our passion can prevent us from the necessary re-evaluation of our deeply held values. Though the media grossly underreports the issue, IraqâÄôs evolution to its current state represents a remarkable success and it must be acknowledged. Iraqi security forces now control 11 of 18 provinces, to include its most lethal âÄî one time death trap for U.S. Soldiers and Marines âÄî Anbar province. Viewing todayâÄôs Iraq through the lens of years past is a mistake and it is irresponsible to ignore current progress. I am not suggesting that the recent success offers validation to a war that was predicated by lies and distortions, for nothing can excuse the deception and fear tactics used in leading the United States into this conflict. But it should remind us of the lofty and virtuous goals that were promised to accompany victory. This war was sold for many reasons. For me the most convincing was the noble ideals of spreading freedom and democracy âÄî expanding libertyâÄôs reach to a land that has lived far too long without it âÄî and even in spite of the reprehensible conduct demonstrated by our government leading to and during our occupation of Iraq, the virtue inherent in these goals cannot be tarnished by the malfeasance of a handful of old, privileged white men. Consider for a moment if the past was erased, the egregious errors of this administration were washed away by the glory of God, and we were to define our support or dissent for this war only by the prospects for the future. Would we not consider these ideals worthy of sacrifice? Is the value in these pursuits not self-evident? Our withdrawal should not be based on the impropriety of our past, but the promise of the future. Immediate withdrawal would satisfy our passions but would not satisfy our obligations to the Iraqi people, nor to history. âÄúOut of Iraq now,âÄù while a convenient slogan, is not a realistic or responsible foreign policy. âÄîRoss Anderson welcomes comments at [email protected]