[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Suspend the Finger Pointing about Iraq
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] Several years ago when I was in Tokyo obtaining background used in my new novel, Conspiracy, released last month, an influential Japanese businessman pointed out a basic difference in our two societies. When something goes wrong in the U.S., he opined, "you immediately try to find the culprit -- someone to blame. Here, we try to repair the problem."

That comment was made when the Japanese economy was flying high, and I have my doubts whether his words are still accurate in general for Japan. However, I have no doubt that they are right on point for our society.

That brings us to Iraq. At this point in time, I am sick and tired of reading and hearing about the media's obsession with whether the intelligence agencies misled the president in the days prior to the war, whether Bush misled the American people, and whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or did not. There will come a time when that inquiry should be made.

Right now, it is debilitating and destructive to continue beating that drum.

As a resident of the Washington area, I suffered through a long and trying Redskins football season. Week after week, Coach Spurrier's band of underachievers and the sports commentators persisted in trying to assign the blame. Some said it was the coach; others this player or that; still others the owner. Most of the suffering fans didn't really give a damn who was at fault. We wanted someone to fix the problem before the season ended in disaster. No one did.

But that was just football. Far more serious is the Iraqi situation. It is a fact that the lawfully elected United States government decided to pursue the war. This means President Bush and the congress who endorsed this approach. It is also a fact that we are now in a very serious and troublesome situation in Iraq. Thousands of Americans are at risk. Even now, after the capture of Saddam, American soldiers are being killed at a rate of more than one a day. There are also huge international stakes for the United States.

These include American prestige and credibility; stability in the Middle East and elsewhere; the supply of oil to the rest of the world; and the war on terror. The Iraqi people have been spared Saddam's brutality, but right now the American government is caught in a crossfire between Sistani, spurred on by militant, revenge bent, Shiites; the suddenly fearful and unremorseful Sunnis; and the Kurds determined to retain autonomy in their region of Iraq.

Our objective is easy to articulate: a reasonable, speedy U.S. exit while leaving behind a stable government that doesn't substitute a new repression for the old. We want all three groups to co-exist in harmony and share the oil wealth. We don't want women catapulted back ten centuries in time in terms of rights. We don't now want another Iran.

These are all worthwhile, but tough objectives to achieve. It's time as a nation we stopped whining about how we got to where we are and move on to figuring out how to fulfill our objectives.

Years after Pearl Harbor, historians debated whether the failure was due to intelligence agents or the White House. Sound familiar?

But in the weeks and months after the day of infamy, we pulled together as a nation to do what it took to prevail. Why can't we do that now?

Why can't all those geniuses, the self appointed experts who fill our newspapers and airwaves daily use their wisdom constructively to suggest ways out of the current morass in Iraq. Why can't the Democratic candidate who wants to demonstrate to the American people that he should be in the White House explain to the electorate how he would deal with the cards we're now holding, rather than bobbing and weaving about his votes on war resolutions. Why can't the Administration's spokespeople take the high road and direct the public's attention to solutions being considered and the justification of each, rather than being sucked into the game of finger pointing.

Unlike the Redskins season, Iraq doesn't have to end as a disaster for the United States. But it will if we don't get off this self destructive kick of assessing blame. Let historians select the culprit later with the advantage of hindsight. For now, we should pull together as a nation and put Iraq on the right track.