President Bush and Vice President Cheney have taken the American people down a new and fearsome path.
The mid-east has been a particularly dangerous and complex region since the Suez crisis of the mid 50s.
This is the region of the world where inter-bloc power politics meets swirling regional antagonisms.
The whole situation is highly pressurized by the presence of oil and the need of all sides to control this resource. To their credit, Bush and Cheney wanted to simplify the situation and establish an American position that was unassailably strong and one that was based on a robust and unalterably pro-American Iraq.
For many, the 9/11 fiasco, the memory of gas station lines and the unrelenting hostility of the Shiites and the Palestinians made the Bush-Cheney siren song a desirable policy, something that should at least be given a chance to succeed.
The difficulty comes from the fact that Bush and Cheney set out to accomplish something that is impossible.
This is not a matter of 20-20 hindsight, as many conservatives would have it.
At the analyst level in the CIA before the war, there was widespread recognition that the Iraqi WMD program had been contained and destroyed.
Similarly, in academe, among many military thinkers and in most intelligence agencies, there were widely publicized views that such factors as Arab nationalism, religious sectarianism, the wide dissemination of well armed militias, tribalism and whole stew of centripetal forces would create chaos in the absence of an authoritarian Iraqi regime.
The social, political and economic conditions in Iraq simply are not compatible for a nascent democracy.This is a classic example of the conditions in which the soft power advantages of the West could have proved decisive. A wide ranging package of economic aid, cultural exchange, diplomatic pressure against human rights abuses and commercial engagement would have, in a relatively short time, achieved conditions in which a broad liberalization and democratization of Iraqi society would have occurred. It is unquestionably the case that the Western nations should join China to establish broad, far-reaching liberalization and modernization policies that recognize and accommodate the unique characteristics of Islam and Middle Eastern society. It is impossible to do this and continue the current conflict. The American people and our government now face a stark choice, to attend to our better nature and begin the work of re-building Iraq, the nation that we have destroyed; or continue the Bush-Cheney neoCon policy of hegemony and armed conflict with all the disastrous consequences it entails.
To show support for a policy of disengagement and troop withdrawal, boycott beef or reduce your beef consumption.
Since President Bush made his veto threat at the Beef Producers Convention, slumping beef sales will show everyone that the American people reject Bush's War.
Hitting the war-mongers where it hurts, in the wallet, will convince them that continued support for the futile and needless Iraq War has consequences.
If you like beef, just eat less of it. If you can publicize your decision, please do so.
But even if you don't, once beef sales start to drop the Beef Producers will quickly connect the dots.