Monday, September 29, 2008

rocky clarity

Centrism has its vices.

By now, position-taking on the Iraq War on the national political level is almost entirely muddled. Someone is against the initiation of the war, against the pre-surge strategy, "for" the surge as an effect but not as a tactic, against setting a date for withdrawal. Another won't speak any longer about initial support for the war (WMDs) but was against the strategy, for the surge, for setting a date for withdrawal. Another is against the war in Iraq because he's "for" the war in Afganistan and yet is generally against Bushian martial anti-terrorism. The problem is obviously the term "the war."

Are you for or against the war?

I'm reminded of Nelson Rockefeller, then governor of New York, who uttered this crystalline statement when asked in a press conference for his position on the Vietnam War:

My position on Vietnam is very simple. And I feel this way. I haven't spoken on it because I haven't felt there was any major contribution that I had to make at the time. I think that our concepts as a nation and that our actions have not kept pace with the changing conditions, and therefore our actions are not completely relevant today to the realities of the magnitude and complexity of the problems that we fact in this conflict.

"Very simple."