Friday, April 11, 2008

AMERICANS: BETWEEN IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE

I had neither the time nor, quite frankly, the will to sit and watch the hearings with General Petreaus and Ambassador Crocker earlier this week. I watched a little of it, and I saw an interview of Gen. Petreaus on CNN. I think their message was that there is progress in Iraq, but it is very fragile and could go the wrong way at any moment. I could argue here, as I have before, that America should not be occupying another nation, but that argument doesn't seem to get much traction. We're stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, where all the loftly language about American democracy and morality is called to question.

The occupation of Iraq (I refuse to call it "the War in Iraq") has become for the American public an annoying reality TV show, and one that is slipping in the ratings. We mostly see and read, unless we make an extra effort, the sanitized versions of daily life in Iraq - for our military as well as for the Iraqi citizens. We're told that the situation is better because the numbers of killings and bombings are less than last year - no matter that there are still a lot of killings and bombings compared to "normal." We're told that the Iraqi security forces are "standing up" - no matter that hundreds (thousands?) of them were standing up so they could find the nearest exit. We're told that the Iraqi government is making progress with important legislation - no matter that deciding what flag to fly is hardly the kind of "important" we would be proud of. We're told that the Iraqi economy is strengthening - no matter that we citizens of the U.S. are footing the bill.

So here we are, stuck between Iraq and a hard place. The most recent brilliant stratigery of Bush & Co. is to stay the course by stalling troop withdrawals and continuing business as usual. In other words, let the next administration deal with it. Oh, but there was one concession by Bush & Co. that resulted from the recent hearings: tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan - the other little "war" we're in?) for our military personnel will be reduced from 15 months to 12 months. Now that's what I call real progress.

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