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Is there a similarity between these two scenarios? Young adventurous man insists on hiking alone and gets literally stuck in a life or death situation. Acknowledging his peril, he cuts off his own hand to save his life.

I've wondered how many of us would reach that same conclusion. Would we even allow our minds to go there, or once there, could we execute such a radical and desperate plan? How many of us would have perished, stuck between the rock and the hard place, unable or unwilling to consider a drastic solution.

So here we are in Iraq, with no clear exit strategy. Perhaps we can't see the solutions because we are unwilling to examine a radically different approach. We seem to want to have a win-win situation, and want to imagine ourselves coming out of this tight spot unscathed (at least on what some would consider the national face saving level, the thousands of lives lost and tens of thousands maimed forever somehow don't seem to count in that equation). Is there a national appendage that could be severed to free us from the endless “War on Terror” that is sending us down our own rocky crevasse? Which is stronger, our will to survive, or the power of conventional thinking?

Irwin Horowitz

First, in response to Elizabeth above, are you perhaps referring to Dubya as the appendage? Sorry, couldn't resist. Also, in regards to my post in this topic from last week (a response to a letter in the Statesman), my op-ed piece was rejected because they don't publish op-ed responses to letters. However, there was a response published in yesterday's Statesman from a Deborah Penn of Boise, which does state much of what I was trying to say in my piece. Here is the link:



Events in Pocatello:

American Blackout will be shown Monday and Tuesday at 7pm in the Wood River Room, which is in the Student Union Building at ISU.
This movie deals with the condition of American elections.

College Dems meet Wednesday at 6:17pm in the Portneuf Room in the Student Union Building at ISU.

Drinking Liberally meets at 9pm on Wednesday at Portneuf Valley Brewery.

Email me with any questions: cavajess at isu.edu

Julie Fanselow

Elizabeth, I am fascinated by the analogy you draw above. I've heard it said that there are no good solutions for Iraq; only less bad ones.

The other phrase we hear over and over is how we need to get a "fresh set of eyes" on the issue. But do James Baker's peepers genuinely constitute a fresh set of eyes? I don't mean to disparage his decades of foreign policy experience, but he and others on his panel are probably too close to the situation (and too tied in to the military industrial complex) to truly see the Middle East muddle in creative ways that would produce a breakthrough.

I just got the current issue of The New Republic, with "Iraq: What's Next?" as its cover story. I'll be reading some of that tonight, and I'll pass along anything that looks fresh and new. But TNR supported the war at the start, so I am not sure that's the best source for innovation, either.

Your last question is especially interesting: What's stronger, our will to survive or the power of conventional thinking? The GOP fundamentalists accuse progressives of not understanding that "these people want to kill us," but we have made the terrorists much stronger and bolder by our continuing occupation. So our survival probably depends on a smart exit strategy followed up by real global action - not war, but smart, strategic, surgical and ethical actions - to root out terrorist activity at home and abroad. Endless wars aren't the answer.


The US in Iraq is like a bull in a china store. We shouldn't be there in the first place and the more we crash around breaking things, the less the owners of the china think of us.

Now that most of the china is broken, the china's owners are fighting over what's left of the store. We should just get out of there and quit breaking the china. We're not going to be happy with the results, but it's not our china. It's crazy and arrogant of us to think we can make things better by continuing to run wildly through the store.

The most insightful and well-researched book I've read on Iraq is Fiasco. If you haven't read it yet, it's well worth your time.

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