Thursday, May 31, 2007

Iraq ..... the President's Schoolyard

The matter of the War in Iraq is consuming Americans. It should as they are paying a very high price for it. A substantial majority of public opinion wants an end to it. A substantial body, but not substantial enough, of political opinion wants an end to it too.

But for the President, it will define his term in office. It will not define it kindly.

I read a piece that puts the issue into decent perspective, and I want to share some of the ideas I found, and add to it.

For the President, this war is about winning. He thinks it can be won, and will not stop until either the clock runs out on his term, or he wins. The main issue here is the belief that the war was ever *winnable*.

As Iraq slides further into civil war and chaos, we are assured that just a few more thousand troops and we will prevail. We will win. It's an illusion. As time rolls on, and the troops deployments increase, the death toll rises and violence breaks out in areas that had been relatively peaceful thus far. I heard it described as playing *whack a mole*. The US gains some measure of control in Baghdad, and as it does, violence erupts in other provinces. Many military experts have insisted all along that to subdue Iraq would require upwards of half a million US troops, not the 160 000 currently deployed. Even then, it would be like clamping a lid on a kettle.

All through the occupation benchmarks, targets, objectives have been set. As the deadlines came and went, so did the imperative to meet them, and new ones were dreamed up. Now we are told that the surge requires until September for a proper assessment. In September, we will be told that there are some very encouraging signs, and January will give a clearer picture.

How do I, a simple man with no experience or knowledge of military affairs, know this? Because we have been there before. Four years and 3500 US deaths ago we were told that the US had won .... major combat operations in Iraq are over .... declared a President, standing beneath a banner proclaiming *Mission Accomplished*, bought and paid for by the White House.

Since then, the actions of the President have resembled those of a child playing a game with another. We will play best of three, or first to five goals, or ten points. When he loses, he shifts the objective .... best of five, first to eight goals ...... then best of eleven .... well, you get the drift.

So we are back to the original point ..... it is about a President who thinks this war is winnable, and will not stop until either he wins, or someone tires of the game and takes their ball home. At which point he will declare victory, or blame the other side for bottling out.

Meanwhile, because we are saddled with a President, and his apologists, who all think we can win; then we all lose!

I might remind the President of another point, were I ever to get the chance. 9/11 and Iraq are not linked, never were and never can be. If you prefer it in simpler terms:

When you go Bowling, you get no credit whatsoever for scoring a Strike in the lane next to the one you are playing in.

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