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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

April 10, 2008


Stay the Course, Again

If you will, imagine being in a platoon on patrol and all of a sudden, you're nearly surrounded by the enemy. You look towards your commanding officer for leadership and guidance, but instead you get delay and confusion. You look at your buddies and see a strange combination of fear, tension and readiness.

There's a way out of the predicament. You have the opportunity for a safe and orderly retreat. You can also choose to allow some of your buddies the opportunity to get away while you and some others stay and fight.

When you and your buddies were deployed to this far off land, you weren't given any mission other than the rhetoric to "keep the peace", whatever that means. Those who made the decision to send you and your buddies to fight a war without a goal decided that an "overwhelming force" wasn't necessary and that you - and your buddies - would stay in this far off land and be the guardians of whatever cause they deem needs guarding that day.

Your platoon leader forces you to stay and fight, but with restraints. You can't shoot until your shot at; you can't fight back until the first, second and third punches are thrown at you; and you can't defend yourself or your buddies to the fullest extent of your power because it might be misconstrued as aggression.

And if you do not fight with the restraints handed to you by those who sent you there; and if one of those on the side of the enemy gets hurt without all of the conditions above not being met in their entirety, the fault and the blame will all be pinned on you.

This must be what it's like to fight President Bush's war in Iraq. No direction; no goal; no end game; and little hope that your tours of duty will have an eventual end.

General David Petraeus, the leader of the US forces in Iraq, has asked that a freeze of troop withdrawals be put in place. The "Surge" is working according to him and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, so well that removing any of the troops would be like removing a stick in a game of "Ker-Plunk" and watching all of the marbles fall to the floor (okay - I'm dating myself).

Judging by the statements made by Petraeus and Crocker, we apparently have the exact right number of troops on the ground in Iraq. We can't remove a single one, and don't need even one more.

It's the Bush formula for war.

"Those of us who have been at this a long time obviously want the war to end as much as anybody else, perhaps maybe more. What we want to do is come home the right way without jeopardizing the gains we fought to achieve."

In a war of follies such as this Bush war in Iraq, what are the gains we have made so far? What has the troop Surge done to make Iraq a better place? The Iraqi troops aren't ready to do this by themselves yet, so that can't be a gain. The Iraqi government, purple fingers and all, still can't decide on how to split up the oil revenues of the second largest oil producing nation in the world. And there are militias running around controlling major parts of the nation with no one to stop them unless some of the surge troops happen to be put in their target zone.

One wonders what General Petraeus will say of a new President comes in and asks what we need to do to get the troops out in a year.

"We will have troops in Iraq after 2009, after he leaves office, and what the president is working to do is to make sure that he makes tough decisions now that can help make for a smooth transition when the next president takes over."
-White House Press secretary Dana Perino

President Bush is trying to make it so the next president has no other choice but to keep his war going even after his administration heads on back to Crawford or Wyoming or whatever hole they will retreat into. Most presidents would look towards ending any messes they had made before leaving office. Abraham Lincoln lamented losing his bid for re-election against his former General George McClellan without having the Civil War come to a close. Bush is looking forward to keeping his war going as a lasting legacy.

And that's a pity.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg