Monday, June 25, 2007

Dan Simmons on Iraq

Read Science Fiction author Dan Simmons' June-July message about outcomes in Iraq. Simmons wrote the excellent Hyperion series. I don't entirely agree with some of his angrier judgements about the early history of the mission. However, that point - a relatively minor one compared to the merits of his "message" - aside, it's a good survey read on where we are in Iraq and the possible outcome paths from this point. He and fellow Sci Fi great Orson Scott Card should get together.

Two of Simmons points that I very much agree with:

  • The American people themselves have to start educating themselves on Iraq and the larger war-on-terrorism issues. To do this, they’ll have to get smarter fast. One way is to quit getting one’s news from Leno and Letterman and Bill Maher and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. There should be a wide, serious, and sustained dialogue among Americans on Iraq and visions of the post-Iraq world and this dialogue must go beyond politics and polls. All informed opinion should be welcomed. We are past the point where the constant deluge of uninformed opinion can be tolerated.

  • The U.S. military has learned much in Iraq. The troops who have fought there have shown not just amazing courage and incredible professionalism, but the ability to learn quickly so as to survive. U.S. soldiers, Marines, and reservists returning for their third, fourth, and fifth tours in Iraq are much wiser than the troops who went their as “liberators” in 2003 and who could not understand why people there were trying to kill them, much less how to beat them. Now it’s time for the American political establishment and the American people to learn from Iraq. The first lesson is obvious – humility. Humility in our strategic goals, humility in our assessment of our place in the world, humility in our approach to other nations in Europe, the Mideast, and elsewhere, and humility in our national and personal understanding of the limits of power.

Combining these two points, I believe that well-educated, intellectual, sober and serious-minded war veterans should be leading this national discussion ... the same veterans of the kind and quality we find in the Columbia University Military Community. The challenge I face is, how will I position our population on the proper platform to project their voice? I've kept myself wholly out of the game for 3-plus months while trying to get my own life in order before retaking the selfless greater good mission burden, but I gotta get back to work sooner rather than later if I want to utilize the summer prep period.


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