We need another investigation"The spirit we have, not the work we do, is what makes us important to the people around us."
By Joan Chittister, OSB
That this country is divided over the situation in
Polling results are clear: The U.S. population has lost its commitment to the war in
When and how
Some people think
If the question seems to lack meaning, think Hurricane Katrina -- the damage it did, the money it is costing, the social insecurity it has spawned, the dispersion of peoples it has generated, the years of recovery it presages, the change it implies for the rest of the country as well as for
Economically, politically, socially,
Point: Three years later and things are not better there.
The only problem is that this time a hurricane didn't do it. War did it. What Saddam Hussein didn't manage to ruin in
The writing of a constitution is no substitute for the reconstruction of the country. What good is a new constitution if the seeds of civil war -- or worse -- are embedded in the social environment in which it is meant to function.
Other elements of the
From this perspective, we are creating what we say we are resisting.
No wonder we're confounded. No wonder we're divided. Both arguments are cogent. Each argument has its point, its truth, its valor -- whatever a person's personal reaction to war in general or this war in particular.
But that mental disarray is precisely what may finally bring us to the real question. The White House may have been wrong from the very start of this debacle but where was the Congress?
Everything in the country is being investigated these days: campaign finances, public security, immigration policies, the intelligence community, violations of confidentiality at the highest levels of the government. Maybe it is time to investigate whatever has happened to the whole concept of "checks and balances," of congressional debate, of political perspective.
While millions of people around the globe marched in the streets against the invasion of Iraq -- millions in the United States itself, while the British Parliament split over the decision to declare war on Iraq and two cabinet members resigned over the decision, while France and Germany, the United Nations and most of the rest of the world asked for more time, more involvement, more assurance, more proof to justify an assault on a sovereign nation, the Congress of the United States steadfastly saluted in front of TV cameras and hummed "Hail to the Chief." No cautions given. No conditions defined. No real debate mounted.
But the American people don't elect Boy Scouts, they elect Senators and Representatives to scrutinize national legislation, to examine national policies, to consider national alternatives, to declare wars.
"Patriotism" is no substitute for Congressional responsibility. Loyalty does not supercede accountability. We do not elect senators and representatives to "get behind the president in times of war." We elect them to get behind the Constitution, to get behind the country, to get behind the arguments, to get behind the administration spin on whether we should be in a war or not. And when. And how. And for what real purposes.
"Victory will be achieved," the president said again at the
Heaven forbid. If it is "unpatriotic," "political," "un-American" to even suggest that war is not a proper course of action when a president suggests a full-scale invasion of another country, it must surely be treasonous to suggest it four years, billions of dollars, thousands of dead, and hundreds of thousands of wounded and displaced later.
It is now clear that George Bush wanted a war with
Where is the Congress now?
Someone, somewhere ought surely to investigate why it is that our vaunted "system of checks and balances" did not work in this case, in fact does not even seem to attempt to work even now.
From where I stand, it looks as if the millions of citizens who stood in the streets in an attempt to stop this war simply went home far too soon.