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August 21, 2005 - Three Items from Sunday, Bloody Sunday













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It seems the war is over - and no one told me.  And Cindy Sheehan didn't end it.  What do I write about now?

First is this odd item from last Sunday that ticked off a lot of people. 

My favorite detail?

"A Bush loyalist, Senator George Allen of Virginia, instructed the president to meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother camping out in Crawford, as 'a matter of courtesy and decency.'  Or, to translate his Washingtonese, as a matter of politics.  Only someone as adrift from reality as Mr. Bush would need to be told that a vacationing president can't win a standoff with a grief-stricken parent commandeering TV cameras and the blogosphere 24/7."

That aside, this is worth a read…

Someone Tell the President the War Is Over
Frank Rich, The New York Times, August 14, 2005

 

LIKE the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over. "We will stay the course," he insistently tells us from his Texas ranch. What do you mean we, white man?

A president can't stay the course when his own citizens (let alone his own allies) won't stay with him. …

 

Key items:

 

... the tipping point this month in Ohio. There's historical symmetry in that. It was in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, that Mr. Bush gave the fateful address that sped Congressional ratification of the war just days later. The speech was a miasma of self-delusion, half-truths and hype. The president said that "we know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade," an exaggeration based on evidence that the Senate Intelligence Committee would later find far from conclusive. He said that Saddam "could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year" were he able to secure "an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball." Our own National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1 quoted State Department findings that claims of Iraqi pursuit of uranium in Africa were "highly dubious."

It was on these false premises - that Iraq was both a collaborator on 9/11 and about to inflict mushroom clouds on America - that honorable and brave young Americans were sent off to fight. Among them were the 19 marine reservists from a single suburban Cleveland battalion slaughtered in just three days at the start of this month. As they perished, another Ohio marine reservist who had served in Iraq came close to winning a Congressional election in southern Ohio. Paul Hackett, a Democrat who called the president a "chicken hawk," received 48 percent of the vote in exactly the kind of bedrock conservative Ohio district that decided the 2004 election for Mr. Bush.

 

And this:

 

But just as politics are a bad motive for choosing a war, so they can be a doomed engine for running a war. In an interview with Tim Russert early last year, Mr. Bush said, "The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me, as I look back, was it was a political war," adding that the "essential" lesson he learned from Vietnam was to not have "politicians making military decisions." But by then Mr. Bush had disastrously ignored that very lesson; he had let Mr. Rumsfeld publicly rebuke the Army's chief of staff, Eric Shinseki, after the general dared tell the truth: that several hundred thousand troops would be required to secure Iraq. To this day it's our failure to provide that security that has turned the country into the terrorist haven it hadn't been before 9/11 - "the central front in the war on terror," as Mr. Bush keeps reminding us, as if that might make us forget he's the one who recklessly created it.

 

And this:

 

Nothing that happens on the ground in Iraq can turn around the fate of this war in America: not a shotgun constitution rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline, not another Iraqi election, not higher terrorist body counts, not another battle for Falluja (where insurgents may again regroup, The Los Angeles Times reported last week). A citizenry that was asked to accept tax cuts, not sacrifice, at the war's inception is hardly in the mood to start sacrificing now. There will be neither the volunteers nor the money required to field the wholesale additional American troops that might bolster the security situation in Iraq.

WHAT lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves. Such an outcome may lead to even greater disaster, but this administration long ago squandered the credibility needed to make the difficult case that more human and financial resources might prevent Iraq from continuing its descent into civil war and its devolution into jihad central.

 

A comment from the left, on Daily Kos (Armando):

 

Frank Rich becomes the first mainstream columnist to say out loud what we have been saying for some time - there are no more corners to turn in Iraq. There are no solutions to this Debacle. Bush has failed. Now we must find a way out that best serves the interests and the security of the United States and the world. A time for new leadership, which long since arrived, remains the most important imperative - because BushCo has no clue and has no resolve. The control of this situation must be snatched from them. By public pressure and by electing Democrats with starch in 2006.

 

That'll be a tough sell.

But then again, it seems a few folks in the administration are admitting this isn't working.  This appeared on the front page of the Washington Post the same morning, Sunday, August 14, 2005.

U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq
Administration Is Shedding 'Unreality' That Dominated Invasion, Official Says
Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer, The Washington Post, Sunday, August 14, 2005; Page A01

Key points?

 

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society where the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

 

And this:

 

"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "That process is being repeated all over."

 

And this:

 

"The most thoroughly dashed expectation was the ability to build a robust self-sustaining economy. We're nowhere near that. State industries, electricity are all below what they were before we got there," said Wayne White, former head of the State Department's Iraq intelligence team who is now at the Middle East Institute. "The administration says Saddam ran down the country. But most damage was from looting [after the invasion], which took down state industries, large private manufacturing, the national electric" system.

 

Ah well.  But back in the summer of 2002 "a senior Bush official" said this to Ron Suskind of the New York Times: "[Establishment liberals] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

It seems creating our own reality was a bit more difficult than anticipated. Reality is funny that way.

And out in the red states?

FUNERAL FOR 21-YEAR-OLD LEXINGTONIAN
Andy Mead, Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky), Sunday, August 14, 2005

Excerpt:

 

... on Friday, Comley's grandmother, 80-year-old Geraldine Comley of Versailles, described herself in an interview as a former Republican stalwart who is "on a rampage" against the president and the war.

She said she would like nothing better than to join Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier who has been holding a peace vigil outside President Bush's ranch in Texas.

"When someone gets up and says 'My son died for our freedom,' or I get a sympathy card that says that, I can hardly bear it," Geraldine Comley said.

She said her view, developed before her grandson's death, is that Bush pushed for war because Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had tried to assassinate the first President Bush, and to get control of Mideast oil.

"And it irritates me no small amount that Dick Cheney, in the Vietnam War, said he had 'other priorities,'" Geraldine Comley said. "He didn't mind sending my grandson over there" to Iraq.

 

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - the wheels were coming off.

So what happens now?































 
 
 
 

Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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