Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Cut and Run -- Now


[Published in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, Dec. 8, 2006.]

The Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTEDemocracy not won by force

Called up for service in Iraq, several members of the National Guard were given digital video cameras. Here’s an exchange from the documentary film “The War Tapes” made from the video they captured while on duty in Iraq.

Specialist Mike Moriarty is filming his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Kevin Shangraw, as they bounce along in a Humvee. He asks his leader for his take on the broader mission, and Sgt. Shangraw comes straight off the dome with a government-issue rationale.

“Well, I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for the Iraqis to establish a new history in the country and be able to be a free and democratic society, which in turn should stabilize the whole Middle East and create a freer and more stable earth as we know it.”

“Tell me how you really feel,” an unseen Specialist Moriarty prompts.

Sgt. Shangraw waits a beat as the bleak landscape flies by in the window before answering.

“Then, after that happens, maybe we can buy everybody in the world a puppy.”

Thomas B. Tucker, in his critique of my Nov. 26, Flashpoint, asks why I sign-off: Gary W. Daily (U. S. Army 1958-1964). Tucker is right, the fact that I helped to defend Connecticut (where I was stationed) from the Reds during the long-past Cold War does not make me “wiser than most.” If this was the case, we would have to give President-Select Bush wisdom credit for his distinguished service in Alabama during the Vietnam war and place an asterisk after Cheney’s name in recognition of his five Vietnam era deferments.

I append my service record to comments I make on Iraq because I want it to be known that military service in the past does not carry with it a blind acceptance of a flawed and failed military-based foreign policy. As a citizen and a vet, I do not take this or any elected official’s policy as being a direct order, to be followed without objection into whatever thoughtless abyss such a policy may lead. And let me say here, good for Sgt Shangraw.

Iraq was “lost” the day we went into that woeful land. Guided by ignorance and emotion we suffered predictable results. And now Bush trumpets his latest slogan: “A new way forward.” My policy proposal remains: Cut and Run.

“Cut” our losses immediately by recognizing that “democratization” cannot come out of the barrel of a gun. “Run” to our strengths — a commitment to international law, hard and fair negotiations with friends and foes, the importance of moral example, and the recognition that, great as America is, our nation cannot bend history to narrow immediate needs and purposes.

— Gary W. Daily

(U.S. Army, 1958-1964)

Terre Haute

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