Many of my friends and neighbors are Birkenstock wearing, vegetarian, llama farming, pro choice, hemp wearing, tie died, politically active liberals who think that the war in Iraq is fundamentally evil. Some of them also feel that my current mission is by association inherently pro war and pro Bush administration.
I live in the heart of the Minnesota 5th congressional district which just elected Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of congress. Personally, I don't think it matters at all whether Keith is Muslim or a Martian, but it seems to have become a bit of a polarizing issue nationally, and so it seems relevant to mention so that you understand the environment I live in. Personally, I'm just counting on him to do his best to work to come up with practical solutions to the difficult problems of our day.
I have another (smaller) group of friends who proudly put out lonely Republican lawn signs in our staunchly Democratic city. They are proud to have voted for the president, and probably would be happy to do it again if it weren't for term limits. They still believe that the war in Iraq was the right thing to do, and the phrase "stay the course" resonates with them. They see what I'm doing as "patriotic".
Personally, I like to describe myself as an independent and a moderate, which is actually a fairly popular affiliation here in Minnesota, the state that elected Jesse Ventura governor. Before you all start to feel stereotyped: I'm sure many of you fit in this category as well, you just don't tend to speak up about your views.
I like to think that my views are nuanced, well reasoned, and insightful. I would have to say that I have a foot in both camps. On the one hand I strongly disagreed with the decision to go to war in Iraq, but I also agree with the Iraq doctrine attributed to Colin Powell which says "You break it, you own it.", and I would definitely oppose a sudden unilateral withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
The decision to go to war in Iraq is history, and now for better or worse we own the place, and it's our responsibility to fix it. Currently we have given that job to 130,000 American soldiers. For the moment I'm going to ignore the question of whether or not the current policy is valid or working, and just focus on the fact that we as a country have asked 130,000 American men and women to do unthinkable tasks at extreme personal cost on our behalf.
These soldiers are solving OUR problem. As American citizens, like it or not, we have responsibility for the outcome in Iraq. If your child broke the neighbors window would you take responsibility as a parent, and make sure it got fixed? I hope so. And from my perspective we as Americans have a similar responsibility to fix Iraq.
This responsibility is two fold in my opinion: 1) We vote for elected officials who are going to be responsible for make decisions on how to fix it, and then we have to opportunity to lobby them and let them now our personal views on the problem. 2) We need to give ALL possible support to the men and woman who are currently on the ground working to fix the problem every day in Iraq. They are doing a tough job on our behalf, and they deserve our best.
I can't predict what will happen next with regard to Iraq policy, but it seems fairly likely that there will be American soldiers in harms way in Iraq for years to come. They are there on the behalf of all American citizens, whether you agree with the policy or not. Regardless of whether you support the policy or not, you can still support the skills, character, and dedication of our soldiers in the field. They didn't ask to go there, they just volunteered to give their all to do whatever their country asks of them.
Day by Day, by Chris Muir (updated daily)
Chris Muir is the cartoonist that I met in Kuwait. He spent two weeks in Iraq at the same time I was there in February 2007, and so thought it would relevant to showcase his work on my site. Here is a link to Chris' humorous travelogue of this Iraq trip: http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/03/arrival_alignright_v.php