Wednesday, September 7, 2011
(CNN) By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
Despite adamant statements that no final decisions have been made about future U.S. troop levels in Iraq, discussions within the administration have included a potential option for keeping just 3,000 forces there beginning next year, according to a senior Pentagon official.
The official emphasized strongly that no final decisions have been made and that discussions with the Iraqis continue. He suggested strongly that the 3,000 number was the low end of any "prudent planning" and if approved by both sides would only allow for minimal training to take place.
There are currently more than 40,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The current agreement is for all troops to withdraw by year's end. However, the U.S. expects the Iraqis to request some U.S. troops to remain to aid in training and security.
A Practical Buddhist Response
The Catholic tradition has always had clear teachings on what is right and what is wrong, and codes of laws for members to follow. Breaking certain laws leads to excommunication – being tossed out on your sinful ear. This is one way the churches exert power over the faithful. Just before he was elected, Pope Benedict wrote "Relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching, looks like the only attitude acceptable to today’s standards… We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires."
Buddhists aren’t absolute about pacifism or much of anything else. It’s not about rules and regulations but principles and ideals. In mulling a complex and nuanced question like whether we should keep soldiers in Iraq, the practical Buddhist considers things like the Four Immeasureables: Metta (loving kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (shared joy), and Upekkha (equanimity), and the precepts about avoiding killing.
Above all, the practical Buddhist works to overcome the ego and look to the good of everyone involved, employing skillful means.President Obama promised to bring all the troops home from Iraq. This is now under reconsideration. If the president asked you what principles to apply, how would you advise him? Please comment.
Posted by David McPhee at 6:09 AM