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Rant #245
(published September 22, 2005)
Is The Right All That's Left?
by Luke Bruhns
I returned from Iraq only a few months ago, yet it seems like I have been living on a different planet for years. I see now only a vague outline of the reality of war, as if it were a line drawn in the sand before a storm. What I see in the media is akin to reading a dime store novel about the Wild West, or looking at a postcard of the Grand Canyon: The depths of the canyon can only be felt from the Colorado river, much as the depths of Iraq can only bee seen on the banks of the Euphrates. Where is Afghanistan anyway?

I have heard this conflict compared to Vietnam in its lack of purpose. I am sickened by this. We are so caught up in the partisan ideals of war vs. anti-war, that we forget who is fighting who. There are no Republicans or Democrats on the streets of Mosul, Fallujah or Tikrit. There is a peoples' army, of Iraqis who fight side by side with Americans. This is a leftist army, an army of the people. They fight to keep their own streets safe and to have a say in the way their government will be rebuilt. We are so mad at the conservative extremists in our own country that we actually forget that it is religious conservatives who are killing American soldiers and, more importantly, their own neighbors in Iraq. How can we call for women's' rights in the U.S. and then try to castrate our current administration for delivering that abroad? It is happening in Afghanistan. I have seen women hiding under their cloaks in the mountains where the Taliban still hold power, yet walking tall in business suits and doctor's scrubs in the cities where the U.S. is supposedly oppressing them.

People say there is no connection between the conflict in Afghanistan and the conflict in Iraq. I say you must be blind not to see it. I know it's hard for Americans watching the news to understand but if they zoomed out their animated graphic maps of Iraq you would see that—at the very least geographically speaking—the distance is smaller than the difference between California and New York. The lines that are drawn in the sand there were not drawn by the people who live there; they where drawn by Westerners on a map very far from the storm that would blow those lines clear off the face of the Earth. The connection is cultural. It's a culture that is not concerned with those borders, not concerned with the governments that supposedly govern them, not concerned even with a woman's right to speak her mind. The war is not against Iraq or Afghanistan; the war is for them.

insurgence:(n) an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict

Those who we are fighting do not represent Iraq or Afghanistan. They represent the same religious fundamentalism that the left in this country blames for our domestic problems. The reality of it is that everything liberals love is what the conservatives are fighting for in Iraq: Women's' rights, secular education, equal representation in their own government, global support and awareness. Why can't the socialists and the union men of our generation raise their fists in anger about these issues? Are they too busy fighting for their pensions?

Are the conservatives taking advantage of the situation and pushing their own agenda? Yes. Why? Because liberals refuse to support what must be done to preserve humanity. We can complain about the atrocities at Abu Ghraib without much thought about what that place was like before the "oppressive" U.S. military occupied it. I urge you to look into that and I promise that you will find the misguided antics of some American soldiers would seem like a day at Disneyland in comparison to how it was prior to U.S. involvement. How many of you have complained about the situation in Iraq? How many of you have served in Iraq? I can promise you this, as a liberal fighting in Iraq you will have a daily opportunity to show the compassion and dignity that needs to be shown by our soldiers. Do you think that had you been in Abu Ghraib you would have done those things? Would you have let your friends? Would you stand next to a Kurd and help him defend his right to vote? Or will you let him die because you are opposed to George Bush? The left in our country is a far cry from the strength of the liberal movements of our past and in present day Iraq. We are too weak to even understand what our position on the war is much less actually defend it. I have been there and I will go back because I believe that what is being done there is the next step in global unification. If more liberals don't take the reigns, then global unification will become global incorporation.

Without bipartisan support of the conflict we can not have bipartisan control. If the left in this country does not take responsibility for the war we cannot claim absolution through ignorance, and we can certainly not claim indifference. We can't all run off into the woods and build a sustainable community and forget that there are bad people in the world. Don't get me wrong, I'll build right next door to you if you stop smokin' so much dope. But I'm still gonna take notice of and participate with the rest of the world. And by "participate" I don't mean stand on a street corner holding a sign—all that's gonna get you is run over. I mean really get involved: Join the Army or the Peace Corps, talk to the Arabs in your community and bridge a gap that doesn't need to be there. Don't be afraid of the issues. If you can't get good news from television stop watching it. Ask a soldier what he felt was going on. Most are more than happy to talk about it as long as your not condescending and superior about it, (which, by the way, most liberals are when discussing the war with soldiers).

We all know war is bad; you don't have to keep reverberating that. Help unify our country in a resounding statement that we can all show to the world. I'm not talking about some idealistic "Can't we all just get along?" crap, I'm talking about compromise and understanding. Accepting the atrocities of war and dealing with them as a unified nation. Pushing our government in the right direction instead of tearing it in two with the "all the way right, or all the way left" mentality. If you tell the conservatives that you want to fight for human rights they are going to fight—just not the way you might have wanted. you can't get mad at your cat for delivering a dead rat on your doorstep. Try to help them understand, find common ground in Iraq and we can start to find it here.

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