Monday, January 15, 2007

Failure in Iraq

We continually hear from the Bush/Cheney administration that if we fail in Iraq the results would be catastrophic. In this analysis they are telling the truth, but it isn’t a prediction, it is pure hindsight. We have failed in Iraq and the results are catastrophic.

3008 (and counting) US soldiers killed, tens of thousands of them suffering life changing injuries, countless Iraqi’s (countless because we chose not to count them) killed, kidnapped, disfigured and maimed, the destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure, the abandonment of Afghanistan to the warlords and poppy growers and the return of the Taliban, the destruction of our nation’s position in the world and our credibility as an honest broker, our national debt at historic highs and an impotent Congress caught up in the fear mongering of our leaders. Patriotic Americans who have questioned the prosecution of this war have been called traitors, thousands of foreign nationals have been detained, hundreds of them have disappeared into the dark hole of CIA and NSA renderings. Thousands of us have been spied on and our civil liberties threatened. All this in the name of promoting Democracy.

The catastrophe is already upon us and its reach is worldwide. I hate to use a sports analogy for fear of sounding like I’m trivializing this horrible situation but if this were a football team, the owners would have thrown the bums out long ago. Well, we are the owners and the 2006 elections were a good start at tossing the bums out on the asses. Now we have to insist that the new Congress do its part.

George Bush was right in his speech to the nation when he said the solution in Iraq would take sacrifice. Those of us who are fortunate enough not to have been called to serve or who don’t have a family member in this war must be prepared to sacrifice time, money and security. Write letters, make phone calls, take time off from work to go see your elected officials, march, protest, withhold your federal income tax. If you don’t feel somehow affected by this war then you might not be doing enough to stop it.

It is also time for our elected officials to sacrifice by risking a bit of their lives as well. Damn the political ramifications to each individual congressional member. They must stand and fight against this reckless and self-serving gang of political thugs in the White House no matter how it might play out in the press or what it might do to their chances of re-election.

It is time to make a very loud noise. Let the soldiers in Iraq hear us. Let them know they have not been abandoned or forgotten or turned into so much fodder. Let the world see that we will not sit quietly by as our young are sent to the slaughter and kings consume excesses and sleep well at night.

No one should sleep well until we have enabled the Iraqi people to re-build their lives. As Collin Powell said in the beginning of all this, “If we break it, we own it.” We are responsible for fixing it, all of us -- those who supported the war and those who opposed it. We, as a nation made this blunder, we as a nation will pay for it. But we do not have to pay in the form of more American soldiers lost or wounded.

After the first gulf war, the Iraqi people rebuilt their nation – bridges and power stations, roads and communications. They are a nation of engineers and architects, they have the capacity to build and fix and support their own people without the help or interference of Halliburton and the other war profiteers who have benefited from the chaos. I’m not so naive as to think that this will be easy. The horror that we created there by our lack of planning for the time after the fall of Saddam and our subsequent pride or ignorance in continuing the blunders have left the country in a civil war. Yet most Iraqi’s want peace and the region needs stability. It’s time for us to ask for help and take advice. The Iraq Study Group developed a strategy that focuses on rebuilding and diplomacy and engaging the neighboring countries.

Bush, Rice, Gates and Casey have all said that their plan for a surge of 21,500 troops may not work but is worth a try. The Iraq Study Group has also said their plan may not work but is worth a try. The latter puts fewer troops at risk and has a better chance to deescalate the violence by removing the “occupier.” If we have to roll the dice, let’s take a chance on the roll where fewer people (US and Iraqi) might die.