Saturday, April 21, 2007

Houston, We Have a Quagmire

“During times of universal deceit,
telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
— George Orwell

Vietnam all over again.

The president sees he can’t impose his will on a foreign country through military force, so his solution is to send in more military. The more soldiers in country, the more U.S. casualties. The more U.S. casualties, the more committed the president becomes to not letting those soldiers die in vain. So he keeps the mission going. And going, and going, and going.

It’s an endless, bloody cycle.

Meanwhile, we disrupt the daily routine of normal Iraqi life, causing thousands to uproot their families and migrate to safer surroundings. Bombings and other attacks by a handful of insurgents claim more and more civilian lives. The unseen enemy picks off our soldiers one at a time, like any revolutionary uprising would. Hundreds and hundreds of years of bitter enmity between two religious sects erupts into bloodshed, fostering an atmosphere of civil war.

Thousands of the very people we aimed to save are dying every year. Our own soldiers and Marines, walking on the edge of this civil war, get caught up in the moment and kill even more innocent Iraqis. Our wide-ranging presence in the region — from supersized warships to overhead stealth aircraft — bumps into the national interests of other nations and causes even more friction and unrest and danger in the region.

And meanwhile, the cost to the American taxpayer skyrockets. Not only are we borrowing more money to finance this debacle, we are indebting our children’s children for years to come with what will surely be the steadily rising ongoing costs of caring for all the men and women we keep sending over there, only to come back traumatized or maimed or dead. How will we pay for that? Who has the money for it?

Speaking of money, we’ve done a great job of destabilizing the price of oil by our very presence in the Persian Gulf, costing those least able to afford it more money at the gas pump.

It’s a miracle the whole place hasn’t already blown up in the president’s face.

At what point do decision-makers realize they have another Vietnam on their hands? 5,000 U.S. dead? 10,000 dead? 30,000 dead? 58,000 dead? Just what we need in Washington: A mirror wall on the other side of the mall.

The president and his new war czars are voicing concern over the local leadership in Iraq. If we see the Iraqi prime minister’s body on a slab sometime soon, will we have the courage to look inward? Will we have ripped yet another page out of the Vietnam playbook by decapitating a government we’re frustrated with?

And on top of all of this, here is a president giddily sending our men and women off to war, writing huge checks for profiteering companies like Halliburton but squeezing every last dime out of the soldiers and Marines who are actually doing the dirty work. Get injured? Well, if your wound is only 10 percent of your whole body area, you only get a small pittance in government compensation. Better luck next tour, son. Speaking of which, how soon can you pack?

What’s that? You say your wound covered 80 percent of your body? Hey, don’t worry, we have only the best facilities for wounded heroes like you: it’s called the Walter Reed Hilton.

What’s that? You won’t need a reservation because you’re dead? Don’t worry, we’ll send some janitors out to the airport to retrieve your body, whenever it is that you get back. It might take a while because, while we pay Halliburton workers to fly first class to Kuwait, you stiffs in uniform have to fly coach to get home, and only when there’s room for you onboard. If we don’t have any maintenance personnel at the plane to greet your casket, don’t worry. They’ve got these great things called forklifts that can do the job.

No wonder they didn’t want pesky photographers capturing scenes like this on camera.

[Believe it or not, this practice was only recently stopped, after a grieving father stood up and shouted his outrage when he learned janitors running a fork lift removed his son’s casket from a commercial flight. No honor guard, nothing. Welcome home, boy. Mission accomplished. Yes, sir.]

War protesters this time around don’t have to bother spitting on our returning soldiers. This war-dodging chickenhawk of a commander in chief has found the one job he’s actually good at: spitting on our returning veterans. [Hey George, been to a military funeral yet?]

We went into Iraq on false pretenses, false promises and false pride. Our hubris made us believe we couldn’t possibly lose a war with a two-bit dictator like Saddam Hussein. We rallied to the flag after 9/11 and we were ready and willing to pay whatever price necessary to go after Osama bin Laden. But we once again underestimated bin Laden, so we devoured whatever raw meat was thrown our way by the dogs of war in the White House. This time, it was Saddam Hussein, though it didn’t matter whether it was Iraq or Iran or Syria. Whatever. The Bush folks could claim al Qaeda was set up practically anywhere before 9/11, facts be damned. And we hungrily swallowed it all.

Riding along embedded in the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld deceit are the distinguished members of the press. We get our news presented with waving flags on our TV screen. Next, I expect to see a silhouette of our Leader, posing with Barney the dog, looking out across a beautiful sunset as another broadcast day comes to a close.

Go back to sleep, America. Don’t trouble yourself with waking up just yet. After all, we paid Halliburton good money for all those body bags. Be a shame to see ’em wasted.


Toby said...

Check out Mike Lupica's column in today's NY Daily News about this same subject and it's in reference to the death of David Halberstam and his coverage of that other unwinnable war.

(Oops. Don't want Cheney to call me a defeatist Democrat!)

Here's the link:

Hope that works - I had to type it in; couldn't just paste it....

Michael Kelley said...

The argument about "staying the course" (oh, yeah, I forgot he never said that now) so that the soldiers will not have died in vain always infuriates me, because it is so senseless and so effective.

Bill Moyers had an excellent show on Channel 13 last Friday about the media and the push for war. He highlighted the two reporters from Knight Ridder who got it all right, who asked the right questions, but who were lost in the frenzy. But it shows, it proves, that the case against the war was there to be made if anyone had the initiative and courage to make it (Edward Kennedy did).

And I think people should carefully weigh how politicians acted at that time --- a vote for the war betrays a lack of insight and/or a lack of prudence and courage. It was clear from the beginning that it was a misguided adventure based on lies.

I read an article recently about countries that build walls as a counterinsurgency tactic. The British did it in Malaysia, the Russians in Germany, the U.S. in Vietnam ("strategic hamlets), Israel in Gaza, and now the U.S. again in Baghdad. The commanders there are reading books by the French general who was in charge in Algeria back in the '50s. Will we never, ever learn??!!

I am very intrigued by Obama. He's still too much of an unknown, but he seems rather unique and I like what I have seen and read so far. Edwards is saying the right things (especially about Iraq and health care) but I can't shake the feeling that he is a demagogue at heart. Oh well, enough for now.

Mike Kelley