On death, destruction, voting, and hope

A conservative reader just challenged me (in the comments to this post) to respond to a quotation from an anti-war activist that was printed in NewsDay:

“If the election touches off even greater violent conflict, engaging U.S. troops even more,” said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of the Manhattan-based anti-war group known as United for Peace and Justice, “that could be a kind of shot in the arm for us.

“Even if the election is considered ‘successful,’ but our troops remain on the ground [for a long time], that, too, would call into question the purpose of our presence. Either way …”

First, let me say, as I said in the comments, that you should never assume that one liberal speaks for all of us, just as I’m working on never assuming that all conservatives think alike.

Second, I am glad that any elections at all happened in Iraq that were more open than those under the previous regime, and I hope—with all the purple-fingered voters of Iraq—that the elections are a sign of better things to come.

Third, because I am glad and I hope does not mean that I forfeit my right and duty as a citizen to ask questions. Such as: we have now completed the elections, the last rationale for our presence in Iraq (after WMDs were proved not to exist), but the country is still wracked with unrest. Does the President have a plan for continued US presence after the elections? If so, for how long? If anything, the early reports after the voting suggest that we now have two large groups in Iraq: moderates and radical fundamentalists, where the moderates are willing to give democracy a shot and the radicals reject it out of hand and are willing to use violence to prevent its taking effect. Is our mission now to stamp out radical Islam? Is that an achievable goal? Are our troops ever coming home?

Last, regarding the post on which this comment thread started. For the sake of my gay and lesbian friends, I don’t ever make the mistake of taking lightly people who reject their claims for fair treatment, tolerance, and equal protection. Because I think that in a democracy, the civil rights of the individual citizen are the most precious thing we have and that they must be protected.