Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wisdom From the Woods VI

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines complex issues.

Today's picture is a look at Mount Washington in New Hampshire from the Great Gulf Wilderness. The Great Gulf trail is one of the most rugged trails on the east coast. Many lives have been lost along this trail as the weather on Mount Washington can change in a matter of minutes. I've enjoyed climbing this ridge many times, but there were an equal number of times that I was denied the summit because of deteriorating conditions.

This picture and the harshness of the environment which it represents serves as metaphor for our dilemma in Iraq. I remember one time making the ascent towards the summit and my friends and I were enjoying 60 degree weather and blue skies. Half way up the ridge, the weather turned; clouds moved in and the temperature dropped over 30 degrees. The wind accelerated to over 30 miles an hour and a light mist started falling. A sheet of ice developed on every surface. We felt trapped because we all risked serious injury trying to climb down the rocks. We all made it down to the tree line safely and back to our camp. To this day I feel that there was a lot of luck involved.

Seems like every day in Iraq situations can "turn on a dime" like the weather in the Great Gulf. The people of Iraq have been fighting each other and their neighbors for over 1000 years. Nothing the United States can do will change that. There will be peace one day and turmoil the next.

When conservatives scoff at Barack Obama because he has stated his intentions do deal with our enemies in the region, I get perplexed. Obama is only following an outline that was first proposed by the Iraq Study Group that was assembled during the Bush administration. The Iraq Study group, comprised of 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats (lead by Republican James A. Baker III and Democrat, Lee H. Hamilton) made the following recommendation:

"Recommendation 9: Under the aegis of the New Diplomatic Offensive and the Support Group, the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues. In engaging Syria and Iran, the United States should consider incentives, as well as disincentives, in seeking constructive results."

The Bush administration gave no credence to the Iraq Study Group and largely ignored the report. I believe that Obama is taking cautioned steps forward in this regard; but just like the Great Gulf Wilderness, trouble most likely lies ahead and can appear seemingly out of nowhere. If the litmus test for success in Iraq is the end of all violence, we will be there for the next 1000 years. Why don't we just say "we won the war"? It's over!



  1. I don't think the Bush team ever used reason to arrive at a decision. You're right, we need to call the war - just say that we won!!

  2. I am sick also of the "randomness" over there--ther is often no rhyme or reason. I believe that we never should have been there in the 1st palce--we are only there because of Bush and Cheney's lies and egos! There are many nations that had worst dictators and situations and needed our help much more if that was a litmus. Iraq and Hussein were no threat to us per se. It is time for the Iraqis to take the monetary and military responsibility for thwir own country. We should leave as soon as we possibly can! ( I liked the parallels drawn in this commentary also)