Marriage is a decision that too many take lightly today and when rushed without giving the consequences an adequate amount of thought, the aftermath can be disastrous. In fact, there are other important decisions made today that carry with them, grave consequences if not thought out rationally and intelligently. Voting to send troops to war is one of them. So if I may, allow me to modify this old saying a bit to: Vote for war in haste, repent at leisure.
Today, we see two prominent candidates for the Democratic nomination for President doing what I feel is just that.
John Edwards, who voted for the decision to go to war twice (once in Afghanistan and once in Iraq), has said the following today:
"We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq military that is mission focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological purposes," Edwards said in remarks prepared for delivery. "By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set—that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam."
There is no war on Islam. President Bush has made this clear from the very beginning. Never have those terms been used to describe this conflict. In my view, this is a gross misconception being advanced by Mr. Edwards, for nothing more than political purposes. The truth of the matter is, we are in a war against a radical ideology that seeks to destroy those that do not bow to the will of those, who wish to advance that radical ideology.
But even more importantly, the former senator has reversed his stance on a vote that he obviously did not think through, at the time it was being debated. I have said before and I will not back down on this one iota- the time to debate the validity and usefulness of this war was before the votes were cast. It's easy to stick your finger into the wind (after the fact) and determine that popular support for the Iraq campaign has dwindled. But to be one that voted in haste and now wishes to repent at leisure, significantly waters down his argument greatly.
The next candidate we have guilty of this action is Hillary Clinton. She voted for both resolutions, as well. (You can click on the previous links to the votes, if you have any doubts.) But now, she feels the need to reverse herself in the midst of the storm and really hopes that Americans will buy into her sudden change of heart, right alongside Mr. Edwards. Today, it is being reported that she has written a letter to Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates demanding that he put together a plan for withdrawal.
That's fine, I suppose it is her right to voice her opinion and she should not be condemned for that. But how far does that get her, when she also voted in haste and is now repenting at leisure? How far does it get her, when we now see that the next troop funding bill will not include language for a specific timetable, for withdrawal?
Now, I know, one can always say they were wrong and certainly has the right to change their mind (which is often done in marriage). But when we take a good look at the real situation here, what I see is plain and obvious.
Both Sen. Clinton and Mr. Edwards voted for both measures to use force, because it was politically expedient to do so at that point in time. The same can be said for Sen. Kerry and a host of others, now pressing for withdrawal. But in my view, they now are looking at the political winds that have obviously shifted and are willing to throw away their votes, as if they never meant them. Had they only known the fallout, I am sure they would have voted against these measures back then. But they didn't. But now they claim to have the answer and their version of the answer is to wash their hands of the entire situation with no thought to the potential fallout.
Look, if someone was against the war(s) from the beginning, that's one thing. I feel they and they alone have an argument. But if they voted for the war and now seek to quit without thinking through the potentially grave consequences of doing so, how much sense does that make?
Sure, if that were to happen and the whole Middle East plunges into a violent conflict as a result, it will be easy to blame it all on George Bush. In fact, that's been the MO from the beginning. And do not get me wrong here, it was his administration that was responsible for bringing it to Congress. But if there were any misgivings of misunderstandings about what it meant, the time to air them was then. By doing all of this now after the fact, is highly counterproductive.
To repent at leisure now, will certainly render the deaths of the soldiers and marines that have been killed during these two conflicts for naught, and they too will be easily blamed on George Bush. But what about those that didn't use their check and balance, at the time the troops were in Kuwait? How much should they escape when the blame is passed around?
Here's the point I am trying to make:
If you want to escape the unintended consequences of your decisions, the only way to avoid it is to make better decisions when they are presented to you. Making poor decisions in haste, because it is a popular thing to do at the time, is a sure way of making a mess of things down the road. And once you have made a commitment to that poor decision, you owe it to yourself to see it through, when it involves the lives of so many people. To say, "I quit", then take your ball and go home, will not solve the problem of your bad decision.
The Dems in Congress are in a position of authority now. They are on a co-equal basis with the GOP and the Administration. They are not in a position to dictate terms to the President. But instead of that, they should be pressing for specific solutions that can speed up the process sufficiently enough that a safe and honorable withdrawal can be done. Threatening, demanding, and repenting in leisure over a vote they made in haste, will not solve anything. It will not tame the violence, it will not get the Iraqis to take more responsibility for their own security, and it will not bring more peace to the world.