INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Now the Hard Part

The military victory has been achieved—as if there was any doubt (whatever doubts may have been expressed initially were highly misplaced and misinformed, to be sure). Now the hard part, chock full of doubts.

Jonathon Delacour, among others, has been so right to point out that it’s time to forget the peace marches. These actions now represent a colossal waste of energy. The energy needs to be directed instead toward the question of what kind of world order we want to build out of the chaos that has been inflicted upon the people of Iraq.

A million peace marchers pouring onto the streets every single day isn’t going to make a lick of difference in addressing this complex problem—other than creating more and more polarization. And guess who’s going to be on the losing side of that one.

Intelligent, thoughtful political action is the requirement now called for. Actually, it always was. I’ve often wondered how many of the peace demonstrators stayed away from the polls in the last election, or threw their vote away on some meaningless third party.

We’ll never know, but I submit that it’s quite possible that the world could be looking a lot different today if all this anti-Bush sentiment had been strategically and responsibly directed during the last congressional election.

This is a representative democracy, after all. Let’s use it in the way it was intended. Let’s make sure that the will of the representatives, with whom we have some leverage, is imposed on the executive branch, rather than the other way around.

Lean hard and lean repeatedly on your representatives. See to it that they see to it that the Bushies don’t have carte blanche on the rebuilding of Iraq and future Mideast policy. Insist that they lean hard on the Administration to move toward, and not away from, the United Nations.

A very tall order, to be sure, but one with more possibility than futile street demonstrations that are dismissed out of hand.

I say this as a former street marcher and demonstrator. But there’s no comparison to the situation then and now. My fellow graybeards who long for the old days of street politics need to get over it. Back then, we were in an impossible war with a conscript army, and body bags coming home by the hundreds every week. It was clearly a street-fighting situation. It didn’t matter if we polarized the society. The fight had to be joined.

“Nation-building” was not even on the radar screen in those days. Now, it’s the critical issue—requiring brain-power, not shoe leather and larynx-power. We can’t rely on the current group of hard-asses in Washington for the brain-power. We’ll have to inject our own.

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