Friday, January 27, 2006

U.S. Bishops Advice on Iraq--Out of Step With Reality?

from this week's Catholic Voice:

WASHINGTON -- America'’s Catholic bishops have called for U.S. troops to leave Iraq '“sooner rather than later,”' and expressed concern that the war has drained funds from '“pressing needs' at home and abroad.

Bishop Thomas Wenski, writing for the bishops' international policy committee, called for an 'honest assessment'” of the Iraqi situation that avoids simplistic answers or partisan finger-pointing.

"Our nation cannot afford a shrill and shallow debate that distorts reality and reduces the options to `cut and run'’ versus `stay the course,'" said Bishop Wenski, who heads the Diocese of Orlando, Fla.

The bishop'’s eight-page statement, issued Jan. 12, said the Church ' historically an influential voice on matters of war and peace' wants to help guide the nation in a 'forthright' discussion that will lead to a '“responsible transition'” in Iraq.


The bishop warned against 'over-simplifying the challenges we face,' both in securing the peace and stabilizing Iraq'’s political future in '“the painstaking, but necessary, path to peace after war and violence.'

Those challenges include investigating and ending allegations of torture, securing rights for religious minorities in Iraq, loosening restrictions on Iraqi refugees, promoting economic reconstruction to help create reasonable levels of employment and economic opportunity, supporting the development of political structure to advance stability, political participation, and respect for religious freedom and basic human rights, while continuing to address problems --particularly poverty -- at home in the U.S., Bishop Wenski said."

Much as I admire many of the bishops, I have a couple of questions for them.

1.) What do they mean by "honest assessment"? What if the truly "honest assessment" means that their preconceptions about what is going on in Iraq is wrong?

2.) Do they believe Osama bin Laden and other Muslim leaders (Iran and Hamas come to mind) when these leaders say their goal is to kill the infidels and establish a global Islamic caliphate? If not, why not?

3.) Why do the Bishops think the war is distracting the U.S. from addressing poverty in this nation?
a.) Do they think that personal responsibility has any bearing on a person's poverty level? I am speaking here mostly of choosing to have children out of wedlock or choosing not to go to school or to study. I understand that drug and alcohol addictions are diseases, yet isn't there a modicum of personal responsibility on the part of the addict to find treatment?
b.) What is their definition of "poverty"? Those who are often considered "poor" in the U.S. would be rich by Third World (or even a previous generation's) standards. Without a defiinition, how will we know when poverty has ended? (When there is a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage?)

4.) When the Bishops refer to 'stay the course' what do they think that means?

5.) What do they think a 'responsible transition' in Iraq means? Why, after three successful elections and an increasing number of Iraqi police and security forces taking over day-to-day operations, do they think the current U.S. Administration is not currently following that policy?

6.) Have they not heard of the reconstruction that is going on in Iraq by native Iraqis, the U.S. military, and U.S. commercial interests? That the lights are back on and the water is safer to drink now than it was during Saddam Hussein's reign?

7.) Do they read blogs as well as the MSM? Have they read any of the military and Iraqi blogs? Many of the points they are making have been answered there.

8.) If the new Iraqi government says they do not want the U.S. military to stay forever, but that they do not want us to leave quite yet, shouldn't we believe them? Shouldn't we let the duly elected Iraqi goverment decide the timetable for our withdrawal? Why not?

I agree that the nation cannot afford a "shrill and shallow debate" on Iraq. But, actually, the Iraqis themselves should now be doing most of the debating. And we should be listening most carefully to them, rather than what we--liberal or conservative, hawk or dove--think they want.