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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Thanksgiving Madman

December 16, 2007


Surging Nowhere

It seems like just a short time ago that Fox News Channel, the Bush administration and anyone and everyone on the GOP side of the aisle were touting the success of "The Surge". After all, wasn't it just this past Wednesday when there were no recorded attacks on US troops for the first time... well.... ever, right?

That Wednesday boast, of course, negated the fact that three car bombs went off in succession on that very same day in Amaraha, about 200 miles south of Baghdad. Amaraha is right in the heart of Shiite territory and an area where there was virtually no violence until separate factions of the Shiite majority all looking for that foothold to power they all crave. Make no mistake about it, much of the new Iraqi violence is Shia on Shia. And as British troops leave Basra and hand over power to the Iraqi army/ police/ whatever they call themselves today, there promises to be even more violence.

"I came to rid Basra of its enemies but I now formally hand Basra back to its friends,"
-Major-General Graham Binns, the exiting British commander

Well said General Binns.

While it's true that the former Sunnis who were aiming at Americans just a few short months ago are now fighting with us - sort of - the reason seems to be that we have become the lesser of two evils to them. The other choice, and their new enemy, is al-Qaeda in Iraq. And the reason they're siding with us rather than them is due to the realization that the terrorist group, which used to fight hand-in-hand and alongside the Sunnis, is out to take control over their territory and implement the kind of religious limitations and persecutions that the whole world witnessed in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Iraq, under the former Sunni Baath rule, was a more secular nation than al-Qaeda wants all of the mid-east to be and the Sunnis wish to keep the regions they control as they were.

Today, the Sunnis appear to want to live peace and begin to have a sense of normalcy. But as they strive towards these things, they do so without the help of an anemic Iraqi government which has almost no control over the nation. The Sunnis control their territories with tribal rule and manage to police themselves without the new Iraqi army. However, in the Sunni areas of the south and east, we see fighting not only amongst those already claiming power and other groups, such as the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, but by others also wanting a piece of the Iraqi oil pie. Even as al-Sadr attempts to keep his militia from beginning to start atrocities anew, many of those others - and some with ties to the young cleric - have decided to take things into their own hands.

And even as No-American-Death Wednesday passed (an event which rarely (if ever) happens in this "mission" which has already been claimed as "accomplished" by President Bush about four full years ago on board the USS Abraham Lincoln), we are creeping up on four thousand US Military deaths. As of Saturday, with the confirmed deaths of three more US soldiers, a grand total of 3,893 have lost theirs lives fighting a fight which should have ended a long time ago.

"The Surge" might be a success by some in the administration's definitions, but it was, and is, just a bit late in coming. Remember that it was this very same Bush administration, led by their Defense Secretary of choice, Donald Rumsfeld, that suggested fewer and fewer troops each and every time that CENTCOM Commander General Tommy Franks came by with an "improved(?)"invasion plan. Remember that the initial plan, drawn up by Franks' predecessor and former boss, General Anthony Zinni, called for an invasion force of nearly a half-million troops. According to interviews by Bob Woodward with Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Franks and The President in his book, Plan of Attack, the "plan" was to come in quick and light and everything would be fine. It wasn't and still isn't.

And as the Iraqi army parades through the streets of Basra and take their uneasy hold of the city, those they're hoping to protect aren't so sure that things are going to be better. Their emotions have gone from relief as the Brits came in to secure their city; to anger and hate as the British became seen more as occupiers rather than protectors; and now to fear and apprehension as they have seen the violence grow and their city take a turn for the worse.

"Lives have been lost and a great deal of money has been spent on staying in Basra until we finally had to leave the city because we were just providing target practice,"
-British Conservative Party member Ken Clarke

And the situation which we face in the entire nation is exactly as Mr. Clark described his nation's troops' position.

The Bush administration and their mouthpieces in the main stream media focus on the actual number of lives lost as to show success in Iraq today. They say things like "only" while informing us that dozens of American lives have been lost in Iraq rather than the usual hundred-plus. And they'll close with "of course, even one life is too many," and then tell us that those lives have been lost for a good cause. The cause, the fail to tell us, is merely to "stay the course".

"Congress has had plenty of time to consider the emergency funds our troops need. Time is running out, and Pentagon officials say that continued delay in funding our troops will soon begin to have a damaging impact on the operations of our military.
"Congress' responsibility is clear: They must deliver vital funds for our troops - and they must do it before they leave for Christmas,"
-President Bush

And so the rhetoric goes on. The President and the GOP damn the Democrats for even questioning the how the American middle class' hard earned money is spent on the Bush administration's wars. The message is clear: Anything bad that happens to the troops happens as the direct result of the Democratic Congress' holding the purse-strings and demanding accountability. Let's face facts here, this Christmas present of unending funds for the troops is actually a gift for the war profiteers and who are a part of the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores". The troops want to come home. And as more and more of them are made up of National Guardsmen - those part time soldiers who thought that they would be used for emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina and ice storms, their morale and connection with their families suffer.

In the Bush vernacular, to support the troops is to keep them away from their families for fifteen months at a time; disconnect them from their jobs; and remove them from their communities. All most of the rest of us want is for them to come home.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg