Friday, November 18, 2005

"STAY THE COURSE" or "CUT AND RUN" ??

(Dear Readers: this post might be a bit long, so get another cuppa and settle in - thanks.)

Well, things are getting interesting on Capitol Hill. The debate of the day concerns the occupation of Iraq - should we "stay the course" or "cut and run?" The Axis of Weasels has brought in a damage control team to figure out how to win the war - no, not the war in Iraq, the public relations war being waged in the media. I just wish these guys would put as much effort into figuring out what to do with the mess they've created in the world.

A few quotes would be good here (thanks to Knight Ridder News Service):

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. President Dubya, Nov. 11, 2005

We must be careful not to give terrorists the false hope that if they can simply hold on long enough, they can outlast us. Ronald Dumbsfeld, Nov. 15, 2005

Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein. What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war. Darth Cheney, Nov. 16, 2005

Excuse me while I take a laugh break - this is just too much!

Well, I'm not a "politician," so I guess I can make all the charges I want and not be in the cross-hairs of the Bush team. The reality, as we all know, is that the invasion and occupation of Iraq had nothing to do with the "global war on terror;" in fact, this ill-concieved global blunder on the part of the U.S. has strengthened terrorism by providing a real-time training ground for jihadists where they can kill Americans (and everyone else in the neighborhood) or be killed trying, thus assuring their place in heaven.

Sending "the wrong signal to our troops" is exactly what the Bushies have been doing all along. And who has been using the war for "political plays" since it started? That's right, Team Bush. a central piece of the Bush re-election strategy was the war - I mean, after all, we have The War President in office (hey - turn down the fanfare, I can't hear myself think).

As for "giving terrorists false hope" - heck, those guys know that as long as Dumbsfeld is on the job, their careers are on solid ground. After all, he's the guy most responsible for sending in too few troops, who were equipment-poor, with no real strategy. (I guess sometimes you can't have the winning strategy you wish you had, you have to just go with the losing strategy you have.)

So, let me get to the point here: do we stay in Iraq or do we leave? My opinion: I don't know, but...

If you are really concerned and interested in this question, pick up a copy of the December 2005 The Atlantic magazine (maybe you can read it on-line). "Why Iraq has no Army" by James Fallows is a thoroughly researched piece of journalism that makes a compelling case for staying in Iraq, but changing the course. His thesis is that we need to change our military strategy to emphasize training the Iraqi forces. He provides details, based on interviews with U.S. military personnel and other knowledgeable people, about why our training efforts have failed so far, and what needs to be done to correct this. Fallows thinks that we can't simply pull out without risking a civil war and other consequences that would be worse than the present situation.

Then read "If America Left Iraq: the case for cutting and running" by Nir Rosen, a journalist who spent 16 months reporting from Iraq after the invasion. Rosen presents a compelling case for pulling out as soon as possible. The presence of American troops in Iraq, Rosen asserts, keeps the insurgency alive, and sets up a political tension between Sunnis and Shiites. Civil war in Iraq is already under way, he claims, because of the American presence. The role of al-Qaeda and foreign jihadists is an insignificant part of the insurgency, and the foreign jihadists are barely tolerated by the native insurgency as long as they are useful. Without American troops in the country, Rosen claims, the insurgency would end, and the foreigners would be rooted out.

So - which is it? Stay or Run? What's needed on Capitol Hill is a serious debate about staying in Iraq or leaving soon. If we stay, what's the Plan? How will we make this thing work? If we leave, how do we do that and what's the Plan?

The charges and counter charges raging in the headlines this week are nothing more than a red herring. The politicians are wasting time playing name calling, finger pointing games. The American public should demand - and in fact, I am demanding - that our elected representatives and the Administration have serious discussions about how to fix the Iraq mess. Both sides of the aisle need to tone down the rhetoric and get to the business at hand.

And if I believe they will do the above, somebody sell me a bridge!

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