Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jim Wallis' "If All You Have Is A Hammer..."

Jim Wallis of Sojourners serves up hope that diplomacy might prevail in the conflict with Iran, perhaps too optimistically given this administration, with his "If All You Have Is A Hammer..." What I admittedly valued was a trip down memory lane on how Bu$hCo bungled (and continues to bungle!) Iraq. At the bottom of the post I've got a link to an alternative that was pushed by religious leaders, including Jim Wallis, back in 2003.

Mr. Wallis begins his writing as follows:

The best line I heard in the period leading up to the war in Iraq was, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” It came from my friend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when we were on a panel together in England about the best response to terrorism.

The premise of the panel was that the threat of terrorism is real, that there are real dangers prowling about in our world, and that the problem of evil is a very serious one. The question we were addressing was what the best response to the real threats of terrorism should be.

Let me say what we have said before in these pages, before this awful war began: The war with Iraq was not a war of last or only resort, or the best way to deal with the real threats offered by Saddam Hussein. There were other alternatives possible—even some non-administration hawks thought that the “six-point plan” offered by some American religious leaders and released by Sojourners in March 2003 should have been tried—and they were simply not seriously considered by the Bush administration. And it is now undeniably true that this administration lied about the facts in Iraq and consistently manipulated intelligence to justify going to war.

Now the stories come every day, of thousands of young Americans dying and being maimed forever, of wives losing husbands and husbands losing wives, of children losing their parents and parents their children—suffering and pain that I believe was unnecessary.

I NOW CALL THIS the American “hammer habit.” If we don’t know how to solve a problem, we just fight. Diplomacy has become a “weak” word to those who run our foreign policy and, in the House debate on Iraq in June, Republicans made numerous references to those who are “afraid to fight.” Right on cue, Fox News Sunday’s Brit Hume accused Democrats of being a party that just doesn’t like to fight. And according to the neo-conservatives masquerading as journalists, such as Hume and William Kristol, continuous fighting is the only foreign policy that makes any sense.

Even more frightening is how much their friends such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have the same strong preference for fighting over talking. If they had their way, we would have fought or would still be fighting several wars by now—all at the same time—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Iran at least, and probably against North Korea too, if they thought we could win the war. They act as if talking and negotiating with potential adversaries is just a waste of time. It is truly astonishing and even shocking how people who simply question the efficacy and morality of the continuing American occupation in Iraq—including longtime military supporters such as Rep. John Murtha—are so quickly and viciously accused of “cutting and running” or not having the “courage” to fight. ...

I continue to hear very smart men and women opine that Iraq might be the biggest foreign policy blunder in recent decades. How an administration such as this one came to power is a lesson for us all. Reckon Ralph Nader still thinks there was little if any difference in Bu$hCo and Al Gore? I'd also forgotten about this "six point plan" or "third way" effort. Looks pretty good now doesn't it?

This fall our nation stands at a crossroads. Electing Progressive Democrats can help create conditions where we can understand why this White House (and many in Congress along with the media plus a great deal of regular Americans) chose war over peace. Learning of the abuses of the Bu$h administration is certainly a part of the equation yet it goes even beyond their cabal of liars and manipulators. Our side can win in the marketplace of ideas, which I think begins with domestic policies that impact surely every citizen. However, a foreign policy that defaults to war cannot be acceptable to the vast majority of Americans, or for that matter our world, and will appeal to all but the most militaristic voters. Peace ... or War!

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