Monday, July 9, 2007

Why We Must Stay

Michael Yon is an independent journalist embedded with American forces in Iraq whose dispatches from the war will someday earn him a Pulitzer, or should. His latest is worth reading in its entirety, but here are some excerpts:

The big news on the streets today is that the people of Baqubah are generally ecstatic, although many hold in reserve a serious concern that we will abandon them again. For many Iraqis, we have morphed from being invaders to occupiers to members of a tribe. I call it the "al Ameriki tribe," or "tribe America."

I've seen this kind of progression in Mosul, out in Anbar and other places, and when I ask our military leaders if they have sensed any shift, many have said, yes, they too sense that Iraqis view us differently. In the context of sectarian and tribal strife, we are the tribe that people can-more or less and with giant caveats-rely on.

Most Iraqis I talk with acknowledge that if it was ever about the oil, it's not now. Not mostly anyway. It clearly would have been cheaper just to buy the oil or invade somewhere easier that has more. Similarly, most Iraqis seem now to realize that we really don't want to stay here, and that many of us can't wait to get back home. They realize that we are not resolved to stay, but are impatient to drive down to Kuwait and sail away. And when they consider the Americans who actually deal with Iraqis every day, the Iraqis can no longer deny that we really do want them to succeed. But we want them to succeed without us.....

The argument that the war was about oil was always ridiculous. If we wanted oil we could have invaded Saudi Arabia or stayed in Kuwait. The idea that we would take on the world's third largest military for oil when we could have taken it without breaking a sweat from somebody else was an argument born of intellectual desperation.

Then Yon gives us this horrifying report:

The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. As Lt. David Wallach interpreted the man's words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, "What did he say?" Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

It is absolutely unimaginable that human beings who profess to be doing the work of God would be so depraved and inhuman. But there's more. Yon describes another al Qaida horror in this dispatch. Read the whole report.

That's the nature of the enemy we fight, and it's the fate the average Iraqi will face if the Democrats and have their way and we pull out too soon. How anyone with any sense of responsibility to their fellow man can just walk away and leave people to this kind of savagery and barbarism is beyond me.

Their reply, of course, is that we're there now and this sort of thing is still happening so how much worse can it be if we leave? I find that argument to be utterly specious. Everything we've seen about al Qaida's behavior suggests that if we leave the whole country will be turned into an abbatoir as the terrorists rush in to eliminate any and all who stand in the way of their total domination. If we stay we will gradually flush the barbarians from their havens, as we've been doing since the surge began, and save the lives of millions.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that leaving now would be the most heartless, cruel, and immoral thing our nation could do.

Before you say you disagree, please read Yon's dispatches at the links above.


On Being a Jerk

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost has a confession to make: He is, he claims, a jerk. Despite this short-coming he makes a serious point about how not to be one.

I don't like being a jerk and I don't like making excuses for my nasty behavior. So I attempt to be nicer, more likable. I pretend to be genial and gregarious in the hope that I'll eventually become less of a jerk.

But it doesn't work. The more I pose and pretend that I'm something I'm not, the more I appear to be a hypocritical jerk.

The main problem is that I go about it all wrong. Instead of trying to be more likable I should focus on being more loving. As C.S. Lewis once noted, "Christian Love (or Charity) for our neighbors is quite a different thing from liking or affection."

Read the whole thing. There's as much wisdom in it as there is humor.


Addressing Illegal Immigration

Yesterday the local Sunday paper ran the fourth column in the series they've invited me to participate in. I re-worked some material from earlier Viewpoint posts on illegal immigration, and the result can be read at the link or here:

Prior to last week's Senate vote the White House insisted that there was no alternative to the ill-fated immigration bill. It was that bill or nothing we were told by its supporters, but I doubt that most people believed that. I think the American people would've been willing to accept a two-stage measure which looked something like this:

The first stage would guarantee that a border fence be built and the border secured. This is the sine qua non of any serious immigration reform. There's no point in painting the house while the ceiling is still leaking. Once our borders are impervious to all but the most dauntless and determined, and once this has been duly certified by a trustworthy commission, then the situation of those already here could be addressed, but not until.

After certification, any subsequent plan for what to do with those already in the country illegally could be crafted to avoid the worst elements of amnesty and yet demonstrate compassion for people desperate to make a decent living. To that end, once the border is secure, I believe Congress would find public support for legislation that allows illegals to stay in the country indefinitely as "guest workers" with no penalty if the following provisos were also adopted and enforced:

1) Illegal aliens would be required to apply for a government identification card. After a reasonable grace period anyone without proper ID would be subject to deportation. This would be a one-time opportunity so that aliens entering the country illegally in the future would be unable to legally acquire a card.

2) No one who had entered the country illegally would at any time be eligible for citizenship (unless they leave the country and reapply through proper channels). Nor would they be entitled to the benefits of citizens. They would not be eligible to vote, or to receive food stamps, unemployment compensation, subsidized housing, AFDC, earned income tax credits, social security, Medicare, etc. They would have limited access to taxpayer largesse, although churches and other charitable organizations would be free to render whatever assistance they wish. Whatever taxes the workers pay would be part of the price of living and working here.

3) Their children, born on our soil, would no longer be granted automatic citizenship (This would, unfortunately, require a constitutional amendment), though they could attend public schools. Moreover, these children would become eligible for citizenship at age eighteen provided they graduate from high school, or earn a GED, or serve in the military.

4) There would be no "chain" immigration. Those who entered illegally would not be permitted to bring their families here. If they wish to see their loved ones they should return home.

5) Any criminal activity, past or future, would be sufficient cause for immediate deportation, as would any serious infraction of the motor vehicle code.

6) There would be no penalty for businesses which employ guest workers, and workers would be free to seek employment anywhere they can find it. Neither the workers nor their employers would have to live in fear of the INS.

This is just an outline, of course, and there are details to be worked out, but it's both simpler and fairer than the Senate bill. Those who have followed the rules for citizenship wouldn't be leap-frogged by those who didn't, and illegals who have proper ID would benefit by being able to work without fear. The long-term cost to taxpayers of illegal immigration would be considerably reduced, trouble-makers among the immigrant population would be deported, and American businesses would not be responsible for background investigations of job applicants. It would also provide incentive for American youngsters to get an education and acquire skills so they don't have to compete for jobs with unskilled immigrants willing to work for lower wages. The one group that would "lose" would be the politicians who wish to pad their party's voter rolls. They'd be out of luck.

Of course, this proposal won't satisfy those who insist that we send all illegals packing, nor will it please those who think the requirements for letting them stay are too stringent, but it seems a more simple, practical, just, and humane solution to the problem than most other plans that have been suggested.

To be sure, it entails a kind of amnesty, but it doesn't reward illegals with the benefits of citizenship as the Senate bill would have. The "amnesty" is contingent upon first stopping the flow of illegals across the border and also upon immigrants keeping themselves out of trouble while they're here.

If, however, the conditions for being allowed to work in this country sound too onerous, if illegal immigrants conclude they could do better elsewhere, they would, of course, be free to leave.