Having the courage to admit our mistakes

Courage comes in many forms. But even the bravest among us often have a weakness when it comes to admitting they are wrong.

I plead guilty to this same weakness. I can't count how many times I have continued on a path, unable to admit I'd screwed up. I'd rather bungee jump off a tall bridge than confess to taking the wrong turn at the last stoplight.

I have seen many intelligent people similarly inflicted. It's painful to watch as they avoid the truth, wiggle and squirm, make excuses or clutch tightly to that river in Egypt.

But it's torture to witness someone doing it, day after day, on the world's biggest stage.

As I watch George W. Bush continuing to try and justify the war whose justifications keep going up in smoke, I'm the one left squirming, like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard.

Please, enough already.

When more than 60 percent of Americans say we should be setting a timetable for pulling the troops out of Iraq, perhaps Bush should listen to them. Or, he should listen to those former military commanders who are saying the same thing. Or even some of the people from Bush's own party.

But Bush and his people aren't listening. Instead, they lash out at anyone who dares to question their decisions, from grieving mother Cindy Sheehan to decorated veteran John Murtha.

Most recently, the leaders of Iraq's three main factions released a statement at a reconciliation conference in Cairo saying there needs to be a timetable for sending American troops home. Perhaps more ominous, the statement also proclaimed that Iraqis have a legitimate right to resist occupation.

When the people we are trying to help say it's OK for insurgents to blow up American soldiers, it's time to rethink this whole "stay the course" thing.

Bring our people home. Saddam Hussein has been ousted, as well as the stability between the factions he maintained for so many years. The country may well descend into civil war, but there's nothing we can do to stop that now. Their issues predate WMD, terrorism, even democracy. We can't force a government on them. That's not democracy, and they know it.

Our presence there is making matters worse. We may have entered as liberators, but now we are the enemy.

It takes courage to stand up to the enemy. But in this case, Bush's biggest enemy is himself. Trying to prop up his credibility on the bodies of the dead is not a winning strategy.

Mr. President, the soldiers you sent to Iraq have shown great courage fighting this war. Now, it's time for you to be brave, swallow your pride and bring them home.

n Kirk Caraway is Internet Editor for the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at kcaraway@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1273.


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