and expect to get a signature. I think I’m being extremely generous in calling the petition, and Rev. Sinkford’s fax to our congressmen childishly naive. Of course, Rev. Sinkford must believe us to be equally naive when he promises “On October 10 we will be walking into your representatives' offices to tell them to end the war...” in his message asking for our signatures. All 435 representatives’ offices, Rev.? Do they allow roller skates in the congressional office building?
Don’t talk to me about whether we should have invaded or not; that ship has sailed. Nor is this about whether the war has been bungled; that dock too is empty. The question here is whether we should cut and run- and that is exactly what Rev. Sinkford demands: “Not another dollar. Not another life.” That position is so deeply immoral that I find it difficult to understand how a highly educated man of the cloth could hold it; I can only hope he’s playing the “ask for the Moon, and they’ll compromise on what you really wanted” game- but I fear, given his history, that he’s serious.
Yes, progress in Iraq is a fraction of what we had hoped for by now. Yes, the government of Iraq has, by their failures, betrayed their courageous countrymen who risked so much by cooperating with the soldiers to root out resistance cells, in going to vote despite the threats. Every person who cooperated- and their families, even the children- lives in danger; every day some are assassinated. Because of the failures of their government, their only security lies in our presence. What are these brave lives worth? Are you willing to answer “Not another dollar. Not another life.”?
There’s nothing new about this situation. Brave Cubans rose up in response to American promises and revolted against Castro... and America lost its nerve at the last moment and withdrew the promised support; they were slaughtered to a man at the Bay of Pigs. Fourteen years after that we left allies behind in our hasty retreat from Vietnam, and again there was slaughter- and our absence as a credible regional threat allowed Pol Pot to slaughter millions in the “killing fields”. Fifteen years after that we encouraged the Kurds to revolt in Iraq, then stood back and allowed them to be slaughtered. Ironically, some of these very victims of our sins of omission were part of the proof that Saddam had once had weapons of mass destruction, as their villages had been gassed. With this history, it is no surprise at all that sixteen years later some are once again declaring our national symbol to be the mark of Cain, our national motto “We are not our brothers’ keepers”- it is just disappointing seeing the President of the UUA chanting that motto.
When mistakes are made, they must be paid for. You can’t just say “Sorry ‘bout that, chief!” and walk away with a clear conscience. You must apologize, yes- but you must also make good what you have destroyed. We have not yet done that; we have barely made a good start. Yes, the cost is dear, but the failure to pay it will be dearer still. We can follow the tradition of the last fifty years- “When the going gets tough, America gets going- in the opposite direction”; or we can at least pretend we’re the men and women our predecessors were and do the right thing by the people who befriended us. It would be so easy to say, as I heard someone around here (not a Unitarian, thank God) say when told that without us, there would be civil war: “So what? The whole damn country isn’t worth a single American life. They’re not even Christian- Hell, they’re just barely white!” Easy- but immoral.