Where Do We Go From Here?
Program Defines Issues for JSPAN Action
(JSPAN) Over 150 people braved stormy weather to attend the program "Iraq: Finding the Right Road" on the evening of November 16th. After a welcome by Board Chair Sue Myers, President Jeff Pasek explained that the program would bring the issues into focus so as to permit JSPAN to adopt a policy position with respect to the future course of the U.S. in Iraq.
Edward Turzanski, Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, spoke in support of continuing the present course. He stated that the Sunni minority in Iraq has missed two out of three chances to take part in the future of their country, with the third opportunity coming up: elections scheduled for December 15, 2005, to choose a new national assembly. Turzanski urges us to watch this event, and the Sunni participation in it, as a key indicator of a brighter future. He expressed the importance of a working democracy (even an imperfect one) in Iraq to put pressure on Syria and other Arab states to provide key rights to their citizens, including the right to vote, free speech and a free press. As for the benefits of fighting to establish democracy in the Middle East, Turzanski restated the long-held view that democracies do not fight wars against each other.
Dick Polman, national political analyst for The Philadelphia Inquirer, examined the reasons for the decline in support for the war, and the political implications of the decline in the President's approval ratings in the upcoming election year. Polman perceives the issue of Iraq as straddling party politics, recognizing that a great many Democrats in Congress joined Republicans in voting to grant the President the power to take military action. Polman sees significance in the resolution that passed the Senate a day before the JSPAN program, calling on the President to provide quarterly reports on the progress of the war (although that resolution does not actually require any measure of success to be achieved or any deadline to be set for the U.S. to withdraw).
Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, spiritual leader of Congregation Adath Jeshurun, spoke vehemently against the war on moral grounds. He urged that although Jewish law allows defensive wars, there is no defense interest on behalf of the United States in Iraq. With the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, the original main argument for the war has been removed, but the Administration has suggested that fighting terror is a further reason - a viewpoint that does not impress the Rabbi in light of the absence of any indication that terrorists operated from Iraq prior to the invasion. Nor is Rosenbloom impressed with the most recent argument, that the U.S. lives already lost cannot be allowed to have been spent in vain. With 2,100 American lives and an estimated 30,000 Iraqi lives lost, the Rabbi called for an "immediate" withdrawal, concluding with the observation that each life lost represents not just a single death, but a loss of all the children, grandchildren and further descendants that individual might have produced - each lost life "a world in itself."
After a lively question and answer period, those present enjoyed refreshments and additional conversation before returning to the rainy night for the trip home.
Jewish Social Policy Action Network