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 V.16 No.18 | May 3 - 9, 2007 

Ortiz y Pino

Stop the Hammer!

We know who lost the war

David Broder, the syndicated Washington Post columnist, blasted Sen. Harry Reid last week for daring to state publicly that the war in Iraq has been lost. Broder, who apparently doesn’t get out much, avers that Reid’s statement was “an embarrassment to the Democrats.”

Really! An “embarrassment.”

I’m not sure what was supposed to be so embarrassing about telling the truth. It certainly didn’t embarrass me, and I’m a Democrat (with a snappy voter registration card from our Secretary of State to prove it, too). So I don’t know exactly who the “embarrassed” Democrats are that Broder is talking about.

But if acknowledging that four years into the invasion of Iraq we are actually further from achieving “victory” than ever before causes consternation among Democrats, that’s a truly peculiar reaction.

Far more embarrassing is to believe that “staying the course,” as Bush has been advising for years, will do anything more than create more violence, more suffering and more hatred of the occupiers than even exists now.

Violence, sadly, is apparently the only tool that do-it-yourselfer George W. Bush has left in his toolbox, the all-purpose hammer we have to resort to no matter what problem we face. Broken window? Hammer it out. Wobbly, uneven table? Hammer off those long legs. Dripping faucet? Try a few well-placed whacks.

When we no longer even attempt diplomatic or political solutions; when we appear to have stopped trying to rebuild schools, improve agriculture, reconnect electricity, water and sewer systems, or provide adequate health care and housing to those whose “hearts and minds” we claim to seek change; when we robotically resort exclusively to the “destroy the village to save it” tactics that worked so miserably in Vietnam 40 years ago—well, then, it sure does appear that gunpowder has become the sole implement in our toolkit.

Gen. David Petraeus, our newest field commander in Iraq, made the uncomfortable trek to Capitol Hill last week to review with our lawmakers and the president the status of the war effort. We don’t know what he said behind closed doors to the Congressional pooh-bahs, but into the microphones for public consumption he told the rest of us that the fighting over there is “exceedingly complex and very tough … and it’s getting tougher.”

Petraeus is too much a team player, too much a professional fighter, to come out and say the “war is lost.” He’s never going to throw in the towel. He’s the military equivalent of the college coach who has his team fouling the opponents to stop the clock in the last three minutes of the game … even though trailing by 20 points.

It isn’t Petraeus who lost the war. He might even succeed in prolonging it for many years to come.

If we continue stubbornly to agree to throw good money after bad to the tune of $2 billion a week; if we restore the draft (or alternatively, completely privatize the army—we’re that close to running out of regular and national guard troops who haven’t served two or more combat tours); if we don’t awaken to the realization that Iraq is rapidly becoming a ghost country, abandoned by those who can get out (2 million have fled already) to the jihadists, whose only purpose in life is to kill Crusaders--if all that holds steady, then yes, Petraeus can keep on fighting for decades into the future.

But win this catastrophe? No. Sorry, General, this “war” is lost. Eighty percent of the Iraqis surveyed simply want us to pack up our weapons and go home. They don’t care who gets declared the “winner” or the “loser” because they can’t see much difference between the two. They just want the goddamned hammering to stop.

Dick Cheney, as channeled by David Broder last week, put forth the interesting thesis that it is those nay-saying Democrats (like Harry Reid), in fact, who will be judged by history to have “lost this war” because in declaring it lost they have emboldened al Qaeda and the insurgent Iraqis to continue fighting.

Think about that for a second. Incredible, isn’t it?

Let’s use that same logic on other historical defeats and, by the magic of wishful thinking, we can at last pin blame on the true culprits: those rotten kids who insist on pointing out that the emperor isn’t actually wearing any clothes.

But we all know who lost this war.

It was the Carpenter in Chief who appointed the crew of men and women (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, et al) that got us into it in the first place and then neglected to provide enough soldiers, armor or equipment to do the job.

It was the Carpenter in Chief who gave billions away to private contractors to rebuild the country and who simply stole the money and walked away with the task undone.

It was the Carpenter in Chief who refused to listen to other countries about his adventure and who now can’t find allies to assist in helping to put the cracked pot back together.

And it was the Carpenter in Chief who assured us the entire endeavor would be handled in weeks (in fact, who declared “mission accomplished” three years ago!) and at a cost of a few billion dollars … some $500 billion and counting ago.

It was not Harry Reid who lost this war. He just tells the truth.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. E-mail jerry@alibi.com.

 
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