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Responsibility

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"Responsibility"

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I find myself distinctly unsurprised to be in total agreement with Brian Katulis’ latest on what’s wrong with timid, centrist approaches to Iraq, but I especially liked this ditty on “responsible” solutions:

One other important point to note -simply slapping a “responsible” label on proposals does not exonerate analysts from actually owning up to some very grim consequences of some of the policies that they espouse. Many of the negative consequences feared by those who oppose U.S. troop redeployment from Iraq have already occurred just as U.S. troop levels were INCREASING in Iraq. When historians look back on 2006-2007 in Iraq, they will see this as a period when massive campaigns of sectarian cleansing were underway – killing thousands, displacing millions more, and resulting in the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948.

When one consider that the current policy of supporting “bottom up” security initiatives means that the U.S. military is actually cooperating with sectarian cleansers and in some cases serial murderers – as Jon Lee Anderson’s excellent piece in the New Yorker highlights – then it raises questions about who is being “responsible.” So instead of posturing about who is most “responsible” and “serious” about “U.S. interests” when we debate Iraq, it is probably better to just say that we agree there are no good options on Iraq and engage in the debate on its merits and facts.

Indeed it strikes me that the yearning for a “responsible” approach most often comes in the course of a kind of abdication of the responsibility to think things through and do the best one can to pick a side in debates about big, important strategic choices. The choices facing the country are enormously consequential in a way that’s a bit frightening, but shying away from those choices is the reverse of taking responsibility.
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