2005-06-30 / This Week's Attitude

This Birthday’s Not So Happy For Nation Mired In Aimless War

This Week
By Neil S. Friedman

Three years of war. Almost four years since the terrible terrorist attacks. So how’s America doin’ as it prepares to celebrate it’s 229th birthday?

In the eyes of the majority, not too good, primarily because we’re mired in a war in Iraq that is going nowhere with no end in sight. Therefore, many Americans are tiring of the invariable deaths and tax money going down a bottomless pit. They’d prefer it just go away so the nation can get on with things more domestic, like universal health care, Social Security’s future and a practical, long-range energy policy. However, despite the enduring hostilities and weakening support for the president’s Iraq policy, prayers for the well being of America’s GIs have intensified. The public would rather see our boys at home rather than halfway ‘round the world.

If I were asked to give the U.S. a rating today on a scale from one to ten, I’d generously give it a 7. The economy’s unstable and prices will surely rise along with the price of oil, which can’t be good for hardworking consumers or the stock market. The score would be nine or more if the damn war in Iraq had some direction. Unfortunately, it’s like the relentless Energizer bunny — it keeps going and going and going…

But it begs the question: Where is it going? The typical response from ardent supporters is, “Democracy in Iraq.” As Iraq goes, so goes the Middle East, according to some pipe dreamers.

And that naturally prompts the query, “What the heck does that have to do with the war on terrorism that began on September 11, 2001?”

President George Bush and his vigilante posse saw it as an opportunity to do something they’d been itching to do ever since Bush Sr. blew his chance to nail Saddam Hussein a decade earlier. The only problem was that Iraq’s dictator had no direct connection to the Al Qaeda-led attack on the U.S. or possessed weapons of mass destruction, the basis for the Iraqi invasion. But what the heck, they obviously believed, Americans are hungry for some kind of revenge, so let’s get Saddam. We can convince them it’s justified.

Supported by the election victory last November, the President’s men are now strutting like peacocks and shooting off at the mouth.

Vice President Dick Cheney sounded like he was living in a vacuum when he recently stated that the Iraqi insurgency is in its “last throes.”

White House Deputy Karl Rove mouthed off like a fool last week when he said: “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11…and prepared for war; liberals…wanted to offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” He later added, “Liberals saw what happened to us and said, ‘We must understand our enemies.’”

Liberal wimps — the derisive phrase commonly used for opponents of the Bush Administration’s aimless war strategy — did no such thing. Liberals, Democrats, Conservatives, Republicans, Independents and nearly every American, regardless of political affiliation, were outraged, shocked and saddened by the events of 9/11. Rove is confusing opposition to the war in Iraq with immediate outrage in the aftermath of 9/11. Nobody wanted a war, but, if we started one, it should, at least, have been for the right reasons, not some veiled, vindictive agenda.

In his confusion, Rove forgot godfather Don Corleone’s advice to his son and successor, Michael: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Anyone with an iota of common sense about military strategy knows that understanding an enemy is a key to victory. Misunderstanding — and miscalculating— the foe was a major flaw in this nation’s plan during the Vietnam War. And the longer the Middle East conflict goes on, the more it is reminiscent of what happened in Southeast Asia, despite, thankfully, the dramatic difference in the number of GIs killed.

In a pep talk to the nation Tuesday night, President Bush alluded to “staying the course” to adequately train Iraqi soldiers to defend their nation. That sounded similar to this nation’s failed policy of Vietnamization when we hoped the South Vietnamese Army would ultimately be capable of defending themselves. And we know how that turned out!

Meanwhile, Osama and what’s left of his loyal Al Qaeda followers are likely holed up in a mountainous region of Afghanistan, apparently unreachable by the mighty armed forces of America, now too busy combating Iraqi insurgency and preparing Iraqi troops to take over the fighting. The formidable task for Iraq’s army, nevertheless, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this week, “could go on for any number of years…five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.”

Some Americans condemned the war when they saw it coming months before the first bombs were dropped on Baghdad. Months before the first American soldier was killed. They realized it was just a knee-jerk reaction because America had to do something — anything — after September 11, 2001. And we’re no closer today to bringing down Al Qaeda or nailing it’s top bad guy than we were nearly four years ago.

As support for the war continues to shrink, it’s obvious more and more Americans are growing doubtful about the information coming from our government leaders. We’re tired of the picture being painted by the Bush Administration. Nobody’s buying it — liberal or otherwise.

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