Embedded journalist extraordinaire Michael Yon makes an appeal to U.S. Senators (thank you Instapundit):
Whatever we do in Iraq from here forward, we must strive to make better decisions than those made between 2003 and 2006. And one way to achieve that is by making certain that our civilian leaders are fully informed. All three candidates for President are extremely intelligent, but that doesn’t mean that all three are tracking the truth on the ground in Iraq. Anyone who wants to be President of the United States needs to see Iraq without the distorting lenses of the media or partisan politics. I would be honored to visit Iraq with Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, Senator McCain or any of their Senate colleagues.
I hereby offer to accompany any Senator to Iraq, whether they are pro-or anti-war, Democrat or Republican.
The best way to understand what is really going on is to listen closely to a wide range of service members who have done multiple tours in Iraq. Some will be negative, some will be positive, but overall I am certain that the vast majority of multi-tour Iraq veterans will testify that there has been great progress, and now there is hope. Combat veterans don’t tolerate happy talk or wishful thinking. They’ll tell you the raw truth as they see it.
Thankfully, those of us who don’t happen to be Senators can still benefit from the exceptionally deep and detailed Iraq reporting that Michael Yon and Michael Totten continue to provide. If you find their work valuable, as I certainly do, consider hitting their tipjars on your way by.
Bruce Bawer says we could use more leaders like Vaclav Havel. I suspect we might do just as well to listen better to the Vaclav Havels that we already have.
[Havel] has also talked about Communism’s psychic legacy, which, though in the main profoundly negative, as it stunted its subjects both morally and spiritually, also had a positive side: for it taught people like him to cherish the freedom they didn’t have. And after they had won it, they knew they must never take it for granted. To stand up for freedom — not only theirs but that of others — was for them a profoundly felt moral obligation. It was worth their vigilance, their sacrifice. In the West, Havel knew, this kind of awareness and commitment were largely absent: “Naturally, all of us continue to pay lip service to democracy, human rights, the order of nature, and responsibility for the world,” he wrote, “but apparently only insofar as it does not require any sacrifice.” The West, he worried, had “lost its ability to sacrifice” — a point also made by Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn in a 1978 commencement address at Harvard. “A decline in courage,” Solzhenitsyn told the graduates on that day three decades ago,
may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. … Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.
Bawer’s article is a very illuminating, well-done bio of Havel — well worth reading in full.