Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The 'Surge'

So I have a question. At the moment, questions are out of vogue and opinions are in (in that respect, all the elections changed were that there is suddenly more than one opinion). My question concerns Iraq. It concerns the 'Surge.' It also concerns criticism of the 'Surge.' My question is, what about the Iraqi people?

Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start): this war should never have happened. Intelligence was deliberately distorted; informed criticisms were ignored; the American people were lied to. Fine. I get that. Most of us get that.

The invasion plans were flawed - troop levels were nowhere near where they should have been. The scenario we expected (something about being greeted as liberators, no Mr. Cheney?) was completely wrong. We foolishly ignored the advice of our allies and pushed them aside. Fine. I get that too.

Bush's plan for a 'Surge' appears to offer little potential for 'success.' The increase is far from substantial. Okay. I'm still getting this. But why do we instead simply call to 'bring the troops home'? Because we don't want more American servicemen and women to be killed? I get that, but what of the far greater number of innocent Iraqis that will continue to be killed if we withdraw without creating some sort of stability? We cannot simply say, as Chuck Schumer suggested the other night, that we didn't bargain for a civil war. The current violence, the tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) or Iraqi deaths, these are the results of our invasion. As a nation, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent future death and destruction resulting for our blunders. (I note, however, that more American troops on the ground is not the only solution)

How do we do that? I admit, I don't know (though I do have some opinions). But we start by talking about it, by asking questions. By admitting that we have a responsibility. And right now, no one seems to be doing that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer today reported that the Federal Way School District has restricted the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's documentary on global warming, requiring that if it is shown it must be accompanied by an opposing viewpoint. They have invoked a district policy which requires teaching of 'controversial' materials to present both sides on an argument. Ironically, the movie's point is to demonstrate that there is no debate within the scientific community about the validity of global warming and human contributions; that is well-accepted. Indeed, the Union of Concerned Scientists recently issued a report on how Exxon has spent $16 million to mislead the public into believing the existence of a controversy over global warming despite the lack of such a controversy in the scientific community.

The school's policy is also clearly in bad faith. Almost every school has some form of anti-drug education, whether that be the DARE program or something similar, but presents no counterpoint. Decriminalization of drugs is certainly a much debated issue; one leading proponent is former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper. The point is that the district's policy of teaching both sides of a controversy is utterly flawed. As with creationism, we needn't teach a non-scientific view in a science class; this is entirely a ploy by someone who is entirely out-of-touch with reality (to see just HOW out-of-touch, refer to the Seattle P-I article).

Want to do something? Here is the contact information for the relevant parties in the Federal Way School District. Write to them and share your thoughts on the current policy. When it's one teacher versus one parent, that is a controversy. When it's one parent versus the entire Seattle-Tacoma region, well, that adds a little perspective. Remember to be polite, articulate, and to the point!

  • Tom Murphy - tmurphy@fwps.org.

    School Board Members:
  • Ed Barney - ed-barney@fwps.org (President)
  • David Larson - Dave-Larson@fwps.org (Vice-President)
  • Charles Hoff - Charles-Hoff@fwps.org
  • Evelyn Castellar - evelyn-castellar@fwps.org
  • Thomas Madden - tmadden@fwps.org