Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Moral Dilemma – Wrestling with Iraq

You may have noticed that it has been well over a week since my last posting. I have been away on a long-anticipated vacation that included some time visiting family. It was good to get away, but it is also good to be back and able to share with readers of The White Rhino Report my thoughts on many issues, and the review of the six books I have read since I last posted an article.

This week our nation pauses to remember Veterans’ Day and to honor those who have served the cause of freedom and democracy as members of our military. As part of my personal observance of Veterans’ Day, I will be at Harvard Business School this evening as a guest of The Armed Forces Alumni Association, as the Marines at HBS celebrate the birthday of the United States Marine Corps, founded in 1775.

So, this week seems an appropriate time to begin to lay out in the pages of The White Rhino Report my growing dilemma of knowing how to think about the war in Iraq. The gist of my dilemma is that I want to be able to speak openly and honestly about my escalating sense of dismay – and even outrage – at the conduct of the war, without in any way indicating a waning of support for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day in doing their sworn duty to obey orders as they are handed down to them. As more and more of my friends, whose opinions I respect, return from Iraq with tales of failed strategy and lack of vision from the top, the more I become convinced that “Staying the course” is not the way to go. I don’t have any brilliant solutions for how best to extricate ourselves from the mess that we have created, but the anecdotal evidence that has come onto my radar screen causes me to believe that Iraq has become a quagmire of biblical proportions. I have also targeted my reading these past few weeks to try to better educate myself about what has happened – and why.

Let me offer a sense of perspective. When I listened to Colin Powell address the UN as he laid out the case for the need to intervene in Iraq to forestall the immanent use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, I believed General Powell. Consequently, I supported the decision to send troops to Iraq. The information that has emerged in the intervening months and years has caused me to second guess the rationale for the war, and has led me to question my willingness to continue to support this administration’s policies regarding the prosecution of that war.

In the coming weeks, I will share my thoughts in greater depth as I review several books that touch on aspects of the war. Lest we, as a society, repeat the worst mistakes of the Viet Nam war era, let me reiterate how vitally important it is to draw a clear line of distinction between questioning and criticizing policy decisions on the one hand, while supporting without reservation the men and women who are being asked to implement those policies as they are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a nation, we are blessed to have an armed forces made up of some of the finest and best trained warriors in the world. They deserve nothing less than our enthusiastic support, gratitude and prayers.

As I prepared to post this article, the word had just come down that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is resigning. Perhaps even the administration is finally beginning to understand the depth of the anguish - expressed at the polls yesterday - that the American people are feeling about this war and those who have been its architects.


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