Friday, October 5, 2007

Beyond the Gates

A piece in the New York Observer chastises the Democrats for some shallow thinking on Iraq. Here are some excerpts:

If opinions about what to do in Iraq could be untangled from views of the Bush administration, it might be possible to have an honest debate about the consequences of a rapid American pullout.

Instead, we are treated to glib remarks even from some of the nation's foremost politicians. "There is no military solution," Senator Hillary Clinton said on the night before the testimony. "That is why I believe we should start bringing our troops home."

It was a dispiriting non sequitur from a woman who is known as one of the more realistic voices in the Iraq debate. There is indeed no exclusively military solution. But that doesn't change the fact that American troops are an essential part of any attempt to get Iraq back on its feet, since they appear to be needed to provide the security that might allow political progress to gain traction.

The thinking of other leading Democrats seems to trundle along even more predictable and flawed lines. The progression seems to be: Bush is bad; Bush doesn't want withdrawal; therefore withdrawal is good.

In a Washington Post op-ed on Saturday, presidential candidate Bill Richardson exhibited an abundance of wishful thinking.

Mr. Richardson asserted that "only a complete withdrawal can ... break the deadlock that has been killing so many people for so long."

But it is not "deadlock" that has been killing people. It is gangs of heavily armed religious fanatics and assorted other thugs. To suggest that a U.S. withdrawal would lead those groups to come to some kind of amicable understanding is risible.

Those who favor an immediate American withdrawal from Iraq bridle at being described as "irresponsible." That is fair enough when Republicans throw out the term as a thinly disguised code for "cowardly" or "traitorous." But at a much more fundamental level, the U.S. does indeed have responsibilities toward Iraq. They do not just begin and end with Colin Powell's famous injunction that "you break it, you own it."

The U.S. sought to create a new, free Iraq. Millions of Iraqis joined with it in that project, at mortal risk to themselves. They were badly let down by America's blunderings and botches. But to abandon them too hastily, too selfishly or too thoughtlessly would be the greatest betrayal of all.

Reading this column I was reminded of the movie Beyond the Gates which tells a story based upon the tragedy of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Thousands of helpless Tutsis had taken shelter from the murderous Hutus in a school occupied by U.N. troops. Hundreds of Hutus massed outside the gates of the school shouting threats and waving their blood-soaked machetes in the air night and day. At length the troops are ordered to withdraw, and the orc-like Hutus close in on the defenseless Tutsis, butchering 2500 of them.

I doubt anyone could watch this movie without feeling total anger and outrage at how these people were abandoned by the West and left to be slaughtered by the Hutus. If anyone doubts the complete fecklessness and uselessness of the U.N. they should watch this movie, but if they do, they need also to see it as a metaphor for Iraq. The left is insisting we do in Iraq the very same thing the U.N. did in Rwanda. The U.N. troops were caught in a civil war of extermination. They could have saved thousands of lives by staying and protecting the Tutsis but they chose to get out of the way, just as the Last Helicopter crowd is urging that the U.S. do in Iraq.

I invite anyone who believes we should pull out - John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, John Kerry, Russ Feingold, Dick Durbin, Bob Casey, Chris Dodd, Barbara Boxer and the twenty or so other Democratic senators who demand a pullout - to watch this movie and then at the end - while the U.N. is wheeling their vehicles out of the school grounds, and the desperate children are lying in their path to stop them, and the Hutus are dancing with glee in anticipation of their imminent butchery - say that the U.N. was doing the right thing by getting out of the way.

If they can't say that about the U.N. in Rwanda how can they say we should retreat from Iraq where the consequences of our withdrawal would be probably at least as horrific as what happened in Rwanda? And if they can support the U.N.'s actions then I don't want to ever again hear any of these people talk about how they care about people. I think it would make me sick.

Rent the movie. It cuts through all the arguments and abstractions about Iraq, even though Iraq, of course, is never mentioned, and shows us vividly exactly what the likely fate of Iraqis would be as soon as we leave them to the savages whose chief delight is the butchering of innocents.


Wallis on the SCHIP Veto

There is much not to like in Jim Wallis' characterization of President Bush's veto of the SCHIP (State Children Health Insurance Program) bill. Here's what Wallis says:

"To veto the bill, with no alternative plan instead - to simply abandon millions of poor children, to leave them to a market system that is failing to provide health care to enough people - is simply morally unacceptable. We must not allow this to become an ideological battle over the larger issue of health care systems. This is about a specific program for poor children that a bipartisan majority believes is working. This is not about health care theories - this is about children. And now, overriding a presidential veto will become the next faith-based issue."

Wallis makes it sound as if there is no alternative to the bill the President vetoed, but this is misleading. There is an alternative plan. The previous plan which has been in effect for ten years is perfectly acceptable to the President who even favors increasing the funding for it. It's the expansion of that plan that the President has vetoed.

He also characterizes the children affected by the veto as poor, but poor children are covered by Medicaid. The affected children live in families with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000, which makes them middle class.

Many of the children who are uncovered lack coverage because their families choose not to buy it. Many of the affected children are in families headed by unwed mothers. Why the taxpayer should subsidize the production of children out of wedlock Wallis doesn't explain, but he obviously thinks we should, even when the family is living above the poverty line.

Wallis alleges that the President vetoed a program that has been working. He did not. He vetoed an expansion of that program. Wallis also insists that these are all children who will be affected by the veto, but that, too, is misleading. In its final form the expanded program would cover people up to the age of 21.

There's no reason why Congress and the White House couldn't compromise on some of the more egregious provisions in this bill, but the Dems won't be in a hurry to do so. They'll find it much more satisfying to join Wallis in misrepresenting the President's position and hammering him for trying to keep the country from slipping into government subsidized health care for everyone. If he wants to point us to something that's "morally unacceptable" maybe he could start with that.


Cold Case Smear

Our entertainment media continues its seeming efforts to see who in the industry can come up with the most bizarre distortion of Christianity to bring before the public. The latest entry in the contest, apparently, is an episode of Cold Case that portrays devout young people in an abstinence organization as a bunch of judgmental hypocrites (what else) who actually stone a girl to death while reciting Scripture and whose youth pastor is a pervert.

Sounds like any Christian youth group one might encounter at the church down the street, doesn't it?

Read the storyline as described by Colleen Raezler of the Culture and Media Institute here. If Raezler's account is accurate this episode of Cold Case tells us a lot more about the fantasies of the people who produced it than it does about the lives of Christian kids.

Maybe the people behind the show had good intentions. Perhaps they thought their ludicrous portrayal of Christianity might entice some kids who'd never otherwise darken the door of a church to think that, hey, if that's what's going on in Sunday School, they want to at least check it out.

Just kidding.