Thursday, September 14, 2006

Detour and Distraction

If the Taliban had proven to be a tougher foe, perhaps Americans would have felt properly avenged and the military sufficiently indispensable that we could have focused attention on improving security at home. Instead, before we had completed our objective of disrupting and capturing Al Queda's leaders, our leaders turned their attention to strikingly more ambitious goals of transforming the entire Mid-East into a series of peaceful America loving regional democracies. How would we achieve this noble goal? We could achieve this either through bluff and intimidation, or through regime change and other words at gun point.

Didn't they notice that throughout history, violence begets violence?

In their hubris and folly, our leaders embarked on a national (and international) campaign of misinformation, intimidation, spin, deceit and fear mongering with the express purpose of "regime change in Baghdad". Yeah I'm sure the oilmen in office didn't miss the fact that Iraq has huge oil reserves. Knowing that people might object to the cost (both human and economic) of a war, the administration deliberately lowballed the required troop levels, length of stay and corresponding cost estimates of such an enterprise, retiring or marginalizing the few people who were bold or foolish enough to call them out.

At the same time they took every opportunity to prejudice the public (i.e. scare the bejebus out of us) with doomsday scenarios of nuclear or chem/bio weapons assault delivered against us via fictitious Iraq-Al Queda connections. We were told that Saddam Hussein was a madman that had used WMDs against his own people. (Now were those the same weapons that we supplied him?) The obvious implication was that nothing could be ruled out. We were told there were links between Al Queda and Saddam. These "links" have since been shown to be pure fabrication or so tenuous that it would be as accurate to suggest that Bush has links to Mara Salvatrucha a.k.a. MS-13. Bush is president and MS-13 operates in the US, case closed.

We were told that the risks of inaction were much greater than the cost of a quick military campaign, and oh yes we KNOW, 100% sure, incontrovertible proof of where they have WMD, we just can't (for fear compromising national security) say where publicly. Well, our leaders scared, lied and intimidated us into starting preemptive war. So much for "democratic countries are peace loving countries".

And in Iraq we remain stuck almost 3.5 years later trying to enforce peace and democracy at gunpoint. And we are stuck, no two ways about it. We can't pull out, or those terrorists (who were not there until we invaded) might claim victory. In taking this approach we have basically ceded control of our military (& foreign policy) to the terrorists. They get to say when it's quitting time not us. Meanwhile our staying there is only fueling the violence of those factions that want us out. A number of cultural and communication challenges, not to mention some president approved aggressive interrogation tactics, have led our troops to engage in a number of actions that were viewed as highly offensive by many Iraqis (Abu Gharib...). So the longer we stay the worse it gets. And the worse it gets the more determined our president is to "stay the course".

Yup Bin Laden's got you by the balls Mr. President. He had that Zarqawi fellow tie up your military for 3 years. 150,000 troops pinned down in Iraq with 2+ US soldiers dying each day and our military now spending over $400 million a day. We recently got Zarqawi, but by them the violence lawlessness and killings had taken on a life of their own. But hey, you were the one that told them to "Bring it on."

Moreover contrary to all the happy talk we've heard from this administration (we have turned so many corners, I'm dizzy) about all the progress in Iraq, we have not been able to provide significant or substantial reconstruction aid (which is one thing we could have achieved that might have won more Iraqis to our cause) because of the miserable security situation. Electricity and water supplies are down. Heck we can't even get as much oil production going as Saddam did while under UN sanctions. Individual militias and insurgents are running rampant throughout select provinces.

Our military is very good at destroying armies and quite good at precision bombing, but in fact the job we have given them of occupying and securing Iraq against insurgents and forestalling a civil war has been and continues to be an impossible job. Obviously there is no simple way to positively identify terrorists or insurgents in a crowd (before they strike), even if they speak perfect English so it is no wonder that our troops have a difficult time dealing safely and respectfully with the general Iraqi populace. Even more disturbing, the uniform leadership of the military has been cowed and broken by a civilian leadership that doesn't understand (or care to understand) what the military is or is not capable of. It is frankly a disgrace that nobody (aside from a couple foot soldiers) has been held accountable for the serious and persistent errors of leadership that have occurred in the last 3.5 years. And our leaders wonder why we are not meeting our military recruiting goals...

If only 2,500 American fighting men and women hadn't died since (not to mention the 45,000 innocent Iraqi civilian deaths) that day Bush appeared in front of the Mission Accomplished banner.

Meanwhile, the government has been so distracted that we have not taken nearly enough steps towards real, measurable security in terms of screening and control of our ports and boarders, securing loose nukes around the world, removing barriers to communication between intelligence and law enforcement agencies or even the simple things like creating (and sharing) a single database of known and suspected terrorists. And we all know that if a terrorist attack were ever to occur (which the president and vice-president like to remind us (just before elections) is a matter of when not if) we can count on zero help from FEMA.

And the worst part is that Iraq had nothing to do with Al Queda in March 2003! But by entering Iraq we have acted out our script exactly how Bin Laden, and his extremist henchmen would have wished, in fact in many ways we are likely exceeding his goals.

Yet our Vice-President has the gall to suggest that only those who question their policies are aiding and comforting the Terrorists! I bet Bin Laden was tickled pink that Bush/Cheney won in '04. And oh by the way are we trying to get Bin Laden or not?


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