In arguing why we should stay in
Iraq during a recent debate, Republican Mike Huckabee, on
stage with other presidential candidates, gave this as his reason why:
He spoke about a lesson he learned from
his mother. What he learned from her, he said, was that if he
went into a store and “if I picked something off
the shelf at the store and I broke it, I bought it. I learned,
I don’t pick something off the shelf I can’t afford to
buy.” He went on to say, “Well,
what we did in Iraq… we essentially broke it. It’s our
responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before
we turn away…” He then went on to
say that he agrees with Senator McCain, that we shouldn’t
leave Iraq until we can leave with honor.
Well, let me say this: First of all, we must all understand
that Iraq wasn’t something sitting on a shelf that was for
sale... something that was ours to pick up, handle, break, or
pay for. It wasn’t a toy or a dish that we broke. And we
didn’t just break something that can be replaced. How do you
buy back the missing arms and legs of thousands of innocent
men, women, and children? And how do you fix the brain damage
that your bombs caused or replace the eyes that your shrapnel
ripped from heads. How do buy back the dead parents, the dead
children, the dead brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and
grandparents who were murdered because you walked into that
‘store’. How do you apologize to parents and their
children for the birth
defects of those recently born and those yet to be born
(possibly for generations to come) because you poisoned their country with depleted uranium.
How do you buy back the innocence of youth that you stole from
millions of children who are now afraid to sleep at night for
fear of the dreams they will encounter when they close their
eyes. How do give back
the homes, the savings, the joy that you took away; the basic
human rights you stole; how do you fix the grief and insanity
that you caused through torture and your blind negligence,
malfeasance, and inhumanity. How do you replace the years you
stole and dreams you killed. How do you bring back the
neighborhoods and the goodwill that once existed between
neighbors? Tell me how do you fix that? What would your mother
And what honor is there if you don’t
pay full price for what you broke? The only honor possible
would require more courage than anyone on that stage of
candidates or anyone
on just about any other stage has yet to demonstrate.
The only honor possible is the
repudiation of the mindset and consciousness that allows
people to quietly stand by while atrocities take place
and the rule of law is demeaned by their own government.
To take responsibility would require
that you understand and admit your crimes and be able to
honestly ask forgiveness… and then lay out your plan for how
you will respond once you understand what you have done.
Figure it out… what do we all owe the
Iraqi people, our own people, all people, for what we took
from them without honor, without decency, without permission,
without reverence for life, and without love.
There are those who will argue that we
went into Iraq for an honorable purpose and/or we did the best
we could there. I don’t believe either of those propositions
is true. At least Huckabee recognizes that we broke it. I
don’t know if he understands what we broke, how bad we broke
it, or what kind of people we have unconsciously become to
allow ourselves to break it in the way that we did.
Before there can be any honor in action,
particularly in debate, there must be a willingness to tell
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about
what you know. And that includes being willing and open to
understand what you currently don’t know, perhaps because
before you really didn't want to know.
If you go into a store and destroy the
merchandise, poison the building, kill the owner and his
children, you don’t get to buy your way out of it. Not this
time. The only honor that is left to you is your own
transformation. That begins with recognizing what you have
done. Until you have done at least that much, you will not
even begin to understand what responsibility is.
And you know what, we are all in this
together, as individuals, as a country, and as world citizens.
Until we acknowledge what we have done;
until we understand that what we did and what we are still
doing is dishonorable, there is no way to leave with honor. Leaving Iraq is not
good enough. Staying in Iraq is not good enough. Until we understand what is good enough,
we will not
have our honor back and neither will we have a chance to vote
for someone who is truly qualified to be President of the United States.