Readers respond to "Dazed and Confused About Iraq," by Michelle Goldberg.

Published October 28, 2003 6:09PM (EST)

[Read the story.]

I'd like to thank Michelle Goldberg for illuminating the current absurdity that's masquerading as political thought in America. After spending a year listening to the Bush administration lie its way to a dangerous and immoral war, I now have to listen to people on the left (my side?) conjure morality from screwing over the already destitute and terrorized Iraqi people by appealing to the pocketbooks of the American taxpayers. Many of these same Americans were extremely eager to go to war, yet now they feel gypped because they have to help pay for it, which should have been obvious from the start. I'm ashamed of the Democratic candidates who are appealing to this selfish, hypocritical mindset.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sympathetic to the anger and alienation that have gripped many liberals, but this recent misguided attempt to score political points with American voters is not the answer. Iraq is a mess, and tragedy continues to unfold daily, but for the sake of our soldiers, the people of Iraq, and the future of our world, we need good leaders to help construct alternatives that could work -- not people who fold their arms and stick their tongues out.

I've stuck my tongue out a few times, believe me, and god knows Bush can drive you to it, but trying to defeat a monster by throwing bodies at its feet and hoping it stumbles is far from heroic -- in fact it's criminal.

-- Chris Siloac

Goldberg's article about the leftover antiwar movement reminds me of the Buddhist saying that if you are shot with an arrow, your first thought is not of who shot you but of how to remove the arrow. This moment in history requires of antiwar Americans, if they are to remain on the side of solidarity with humankind, to forget for a while who destroyed Iraq. What is important is that Iraq needs rebuilding. The retrospective merits of the invasion and the prospective merits of a safe and prosperous Iraq should not be confused. The Iraqi people should not be abandoned simply because doing so would smite the Bush administration. To think otherwise is to engage in the vulgar political calculus that seemingly rationalized the war.

-- Erik Goodman

George Packer and Paul Berman can pontificate all they want about how America needs to commit more resources to Iraq, but those guys have nice, cushy think-tank jobs and don't really have to worry about surviving President Bush's recession like the rest of us.

I'm as big a liberal as the next guy, but I've been out of work for a year now and my unemployment insurance is long gone, and frankly, I couldn't give a flying fuck about the plight of the Iraqi people. I've got my own problems. What the hell have they ever done for me? Why should I subsidize their healthcare when I can't even afford my own?

I was against this war and this president from the beginning, and since nobody seemed to want to listen to me, I really do not feel any personal responsibility for the plight of the Iraqi people. I say let the Republicans choke on their mistakes in Iraq -- or better yet, let Fox News, Halliburton and the Trireme Group pay for the costs of reconstruction. If these clowns love privatization so much, let's see how they handle it. Then, after they fuck up, let's let the U.N. handle the rest of it, so we can bring the troops home and start worrying about dumping Bush and fixing the economy, healthcare and the national debt.

If Packer and Berman (and their ilk) still want me to support $87 billion for Iraqi reconstruction, how about they pony up $87 thousand for my own personal financial reconstruction?

-- Tom Pryor

Under the guise of reporting, Michelle Goldberg selects nasty strawmen to make her pro-war and pro-occupation case by exception -- in the grand tradition of Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove. We never get past the "communists," the "ponytail with earring," the "Jew hater" and the "skinny anarchists" to the real story. The real story is that millions of us, including those here Saturday, are dazed and betrayed by the administration's tide of lies, deceptions, disinformation, propaganda and phony "news" coverage -- and the continuing death and destruction.

The real story is whether the American people would have gone to war and paid $160 billion (just for openers) to bring "freedom and democracy" to the Iraqi people, or whether we are obligated to stay until they are peaceful, democratic and pro-American. This seems to be what Goldberg advocates. But some of the minor roadblocks to this fairy tale are in front of our face: Iraqi citizens celebrating the death of our troops, Iraqis dancing on our burning equipment, Shia leaders calling for jihad, crowds chanting "death to America," and so on. Sift through the implications of bringing in Turkish troops to spread "freedom" among the Iraqi Kurds. Experience the joy that Iraqi Sunni, Turkmen, Kurds and Christians will have when the "democratic" Shiite theocracy takes over.

As to the Bush cartel's commitment to Iraqi "freedom," let's remember where Bush the first left them in 1991. When, in 2004, will Bush the second declare operation Iraqi Freedom a victory? September?

-- Tim Alexander

I think Goldberg's article brings out some interesting points, and who ANSWER really is, is an important one. But to be so critical of Democrats who voted against funding for Iraq ignores the political reality of the GOP and the administration, which is "win at any cost." I believe the Democrats who voted for the war primarily wanted to give our president the flexibility to negotiate hard with the world on terrorism. They did not realize that the administration would mislead the nation about an "imminent threat." Nobody wanted to believe any U.S. administration would be so low and corrupt and, well, Nixonian.

But now that many of the lies and deceit about how the unelected fraud's team misled the nation are starting to come out, it is obvious that the old cliché, "once bitten, twice shy" applies to the Democrats.

We need stay in Iraq no matter that we were intentionally misled into it. To cut and run would prove bin Laden right, that America runs when the body bags start coming home. It would be tough to ever regain our credibility in the world. To blame the Democrats for this war rather than the "win at any cost" GOP and the lying Bush administration is duplicitous and misleading in itself.

I am from Independence, Mo., Harry Truman's birthplace. When he was faced with the end of WWII, one of the biggest criteria he used for U.S. money in the Marshall Plan was that the U.S. would not, and could not, be seen to profit from the rebuilding of Europe. The same criterion needs to apply to Iraq. I don't like how we got there, but I will be more disappointed if we leave without making our wrong, right.

-- Bill Davis

Salon seems to be the only Internet source carrying any coverage of the 10 to 20 thousand people who showed up at this antiwar rally. The bigger story is why the American press does not cover this story, not whether these people are wrong in their attitude.

-- Sally Sanders

Here is a positive, constructive suggestion from a liberal opposed to the war and current reconstruction efforts. The biggest step in the right direction that the Bush administration could take right now is immediately cancel all contracts awarded to date without a bid. Immediately after this, the same contracts should be reopened with an international, completely public bid process, with the contracts being awarded to the company that makes the most competitive bid. In one step, this would eliminate charges that the reconstruction is a make-work project for friends of the administration and substantially reduce the monies required to finance these contracts.

Will this ever happen? Not likely, since it is becoming increasingly clear that reconstruction contracts are only partially awarded with the purpose of rebuilding Iraq. A large part of why and how they are awarded also has to do with getting international work for American companies.

-- Lyle Bateman

It truly saddens me that the ANSWER group has hijacked the antiwar movement from the beginning. Since long before the war started, I attended protests in Washington on a regular basis. Throughout, even though I can say the majority of demonstrators were more rational and thoughtful about their true opposition to the war and the administration than the ANSWER coalition of loose fringe groups, there was no other group stepping up to organize us. With the lack of a rational voice it was commonplace to feel alienated at these gatherings because the speakers didn't even speak for what I believe.

I see this as a challenge for our times: It could turn out to be a struggle that lasts for years. If we don't act now to get back on the right track, the movement will become irrelevant. The Iraqis' suffering, the Americans' giving up their civil rights, and the welfare of all those in between are what is truly at stake. It's time to act, but not as reactionaries -- as realists.

-- Daniel Noon

By Salon Staff

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