I spent over 10 years working in the substance abuse field.  I have also attended my fair share of Alanon meetings.  One of the absolute mantras of recovery is "never work harder on the problem than the person with the problem."  Doing so, that is "working harder than the person with the problem" is a recipe for disaster…a sure way to stay stuck in the dysfunctional pattern that is making you miserable.  The "person with the problem" has no incentive to get better; you continue to build resentment and frustration…and nothing changes.

It seems to me that is exactly what we are doing in Iraq.  We are working harder than the person with the problem.  Consequently, there is no reason for the Iraqis to make any changes.  In this instance, however, the consequences are more serious than resentment and frustration.  Over 3,000 of our brave young and men have died, thousands more have been horribly wounded.  Now we are sending more troops into harm’s way.  It makes me so sad.

I listened hopefully to the President the other night.  I prayed for him as he spoke.  I was hopeful that he would lay down some firm boundaries for the Iraqi people.  Perhaps he did to some degree.  What I didn’t hear was what would happen if the Iraqis don’t do their part.  Sticking with my previous analogy, any intervention should include the following: here is the problem, here is what you need to do, here is what we will do, AND here is what will happen if you don’t do your part.  The last part is the muscle, the "change-maker" and, it seems to me, that is the part that is missing.  Unfortunately, we are gambling the lives of our brave young men and women that the Iraqis care as much about change as we do. 

The part of this that scares me the most is how President Bush seems to, once again, be going it alone.  His own party is even abandoning him now.  These words yesterday from Senator Chuck Hagel, a REPUBLICAN, haunt me:

I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam if it’s carried out.

In an article he wrote in November, Chuck Hagel said the following:

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation — regardless of our noble purpose.

We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.

Do the Iraqis even want democracy?  Are they willing to fight for it…to die for it?  I just don’t know.  I just know we need to make a decision about how long we are willing to work harder on the problem than the people with the problem.  Seems like everyone in the country except George Bush, bless his heart, is already done.