Town Hall Meeting with Brian BairdI attended a Town Hall Meeting with Brian Baird, who is my Representative to the US House of Representatives. The Town Hall Meeting was announced after a mass of dissent toward the Representative's change of direction regarding the surge in troop levels and the occupation of Iraq.

According to Rep. Baird, after "working very hard" to find Iraqis who support the surge, he was successful in finding 13 people. Two were MPs. 11 were Sheiks from a specific area of Iraq. But the Representative found no support amongst ordinary, common Iraqis for either the surge or the occupation.

Letter from Representative BairdI was disappointed and aggrieved to hear of Rep. Baird's change of direction. I recently received a letter from the Representative, which has prompted me to become more active in expressing my opinion on this matter.

I would like to say that I agree with Baird, insofar as I feel that the US has a responsibility to stabilize, to remedy, to repair Iraq. The US pre-emptive attack was without warrant. There was no justification for the invasion. I allege that the "facts" regarding evidence of WMD threat were "fixed" to meet the policy of the invasion (

But culpability for an aggressive and belligerent military action is a separate, though very closely related issue. Holding our leaders accountable for fraud or any other potential malfeasance would be helpful in the stabilization of Iraq.

But more importantly there must be a change in the mission. The mission must be changed from being anti-insurgency to providing for the basic security of all Iraqis and beginning reconstruction and rebuilding of the infrastructure (by military personnel.) Reconstruction must be on par with current standards in the domestic USA. Water, sewage, electricity, schools, hospitals, roads, etc. all must be repaired to at least prewar standards.

That said, I just don't know if the military option is feasible in providing for the reconstruction and re-stabilization of Iraqi civil society. I don't know if the US military is the right entity for the job...

Here's a copy of a letter I just wrote to Representative Baird:
Dear Representative Baird,

I received a letter from your office in acknowledgment of my attendance at a recent town hall meeting, which you sponsored in Olympia Washington. I am glad that I was able to attend, and I appreciate your support for civic engagement. I hope you were able to hear and listen to the views and opinions of your constituents despite the somewhat hostile environment in the Capital High School Performance Center Auditorium that night. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for two and a half hours, until 9:30 p.m., so I didn't get to hear the rest of the comments, or your responses to them.

I care about the USA and also that the actions of the USA genuinely and accurately reflect what I think and feel to be the best aspects of the character of Americans. I believe that Americans are capable of great hospitality - even compassion, I believe that Americans are generous and that we have an interest in equitable and fair relations amongst all people. After all, America was born out of dissent over unfair taxation - taxation without representation - that was essentially a colonial power's effort to exploit its "subjects."

So I am writing to you with an eye toward the past, as well as toward the future, when I express my concern and disapproval over your change of direction in regard to your policy on Iraq. I am concerned that America is becoming that colonial/imperial force that the founders of our own government rejected.

I am also dissatisfied with the content of your letter of acknowledgment. At the Town Hall Meeting I expressed (in a handwritten statement on a note card that was delivered to your staffers) my concern that you hadn't considered the possibility of a gradual withdrawal. It sounded to me like you opposed a withdrawal that would be sudden and shocking (like the invasion) which would likely result in a major security vacuum and further violence - a "bloodbath."

But if the withdrawal were to take place over the course of one year, allowing the security situation to fill in organically as the US forces withdraw gradually, I think there is the potential to prevent much violence. So much of the violence in Iraq is the result of the US presence.

I agree with you that the US has an obligation to work toward a stabilized Iraq. I am concerned that the military option is not the best option. For one, it seems that the military mission is vague. Is it to destroy insurgency? Well, how can our military personnel destroy something which they cannot identify?

I think that the mission must be changed. It must be changed to this: provide basic defense for the Iraqi Civilians, begin reconstruction immediately, and in earnest. Increase troop levels if needed. Rebuild the infrastructure to current US standards. Give the Iraqis something to feel pride in. Restore the water, sewage, electricity, roads, schools and hospitals to pre-war standards.

Make that the mission and those the goals for the occupation. And set certain criteria to enable the withdrawal.

Without that change in mission, and without holding the Bush Administration accountable, and to the standards of Justice, then there is no other reasonable option, in my mind (as well as in the minds of the vast majority of my fellow constituents) but to commence immediately upon a safe and responsible complete withdrawal.

Thank you, Mr. Representative, for taking the time and making the effort to read and understand my comments.

Robert Whitlock
I am still trying to draft a letter to the editor of the Olympian. Hopefully these ruminations will assist that effort. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Can you cc the Olympian on this fine letter? Your suggestions resonate with me. They seem reasonable and in line with what I think the US stands for. You do such good work!


Aldo Leopold: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

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