What Michael Steele Should Have Said

This past week, the talking heads obsessed over RNC leader Michael Steele’s candid declaration that the war in Afghanistan was “of Obama’s choosing” and is unwinnable. Instead of adding my own commentary, I want to reproduce a few excerpts of another American leader’s views on the matter:

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Afghanistan. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Afghanistan. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.  

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Afghanistan. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad Iran into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Afghanistan immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Afghanistan, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Afghan people.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Afghanistan, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

We must find new ways to speak for peace in Afghanistan and justice throughout the developing world — a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Can’t figure out who said those words? That’s because they were delivered in 1967 about Vietnam. I have changed “Vietnam” to “Afghanistan,” “Vietnamese” to “Afghan,” and “China” to “Iran.” Every other word is exactly the same as it was when Martin Luther King, Jr., said it to the congregation of Riverside Church in New York City.

Of course you don’t recognize it. We don’t speak of King’s opposition to the war in our classrooms. We don’t debate foreign policy in terms of morality and how it will affect the least fortunate among us. And we certainly don’t have a prominent leader willing to preach as frankly as King did.