Fresh from the New Hampshire Republican debate we have some of Governor Mike Huckabee’s comments on why we have to continue the surge in Iraq and why we can’t leave the country the way that Congressman Ron Paul wants us to:
We have to continue the surge. And let me explain why, Chris. When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me. If I picked something off the shelf of the store and I broke it, I bought it.
I learned don’t pick something off the shelf I can’t afford to buy.
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 just turn away because something is at stake.
I should say this before I go on to say mean things about Governor Huckabee: I like him for the most part. I think he’s a nice guy who is probably genuine in what he says he believes and I think he probably loves his country, and clearly, he listened to his mother and all that.
But on the other hand, what does breaking something in a store and having to pay for it have to do with Iraq? We weren’t looking at Iraq and they slipped out of our hands. We weren’t playing with Iraq and let them fall to the floor. And does it mean that once we pay for it, we will own Iraq? Or does it?
No. Instead, we engaged in military action with Iraq based on the terms outlined in the cease-fire agreement from the 1991 Gulf War. We invaded their country and we overthrew their government. In other words, to try and use Governor Huckabee’s analogy, we were in a store and shopkeeper Hussein tried to kill us and in the ensuing battle we broke something. Do we still have to pay for it? And to who? The new shop keeper? The international police? Governor Huckabee’s mother? I have no idea. The real point I’m trying to make is not that the Iraq war was justified, but that the analogy is lame and just doesn’t work. We don’t need to try to make foreign policy by applying the Huckabee Customer Code of Conduct, we look at what happened and ask how we should respond righteously.
It gets worse, because he went on to say this:
Senator McCain made a great point, and let me make this clear. If there’s anybody on this stage that understands the word honor, I’ve got to say Senator McCain understands that word — (applause, cheers) — because he has given his country a sacrifice the rest of us don’t even comprehend. (Continued applause.)
And on this issue, when he says we can’t leave until we’ve left with honor, I 100 percent agree with him because, Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion that historians can have, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it. We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and to the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and ever served in our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve.
What does this mean? I mean, I know what all the words mean, but what does it mean to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve? Grammatically, the ‘them’ in the sentence refers to the troops, but what does this really mean when it comes to leaving Iraq? How can we know when we’ve fulfilled our honor to the Iraqis or to the troops? What is the criteria we should use so that we know when we’ve acted with sufficient honor? Do we ask Senator McCain? Do we ask presumably-then-President Huckabee? I have no idea.
But what scares me most of all about Governor Huckabee’s rhetoric is this statement:
…whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion that historians can have, but we’re there.
What Governor Huckabee is doing here is using the word “honor” as if it doesn’t matter that the word means different things to different people. He is using the word honor, in part because no one can object to being honorable. In many ways, he is like a 15 year old boy telling a girl he would like to bed that he “loves” her. They both hear the same word, but they think of very different things. A week later when he is no longer as infatuated, he will say quite sincerely, “It doesn’t matter that I loved you then, what matters is that I do not love you now.”
I would like to submit that we cannot determine how to act with honor unless we determine whether we went into Iraq rightfully or wrongfully. And while it is all well and good to say, “we’re there”, it is also necessary to ask how we got there, for no other reason than so we can properly answer the question of what we need to do now. It’s something that must be treated seriously.
You could say that our honor demands it.