Enjoy - and wave toward the east coast - friend and reader Some Perspective For You had this waiting in my inbox when I logged on this morning.
The Crazy Middle East
All Eyes on Baghdad
All the pros and cons on the war have been aired. We’ve read all the tell-all books by Woodward, Ricks, Gordon, Trainor and the rest that now contradict the arguments and theses of what they wrote about the 1991 war—that then we should have done what we are doing now, which in turn should now be what we had done then.
[what a canard--apparently, when Woodward was writing what the Administration liked, his journalism was "accurate." Now, when the wheels come off, Woodward is denigrated as a mere tell-all writer.]
All the once insider geniuses like Clark, Scheuer, O’Neil and Tenet have sold their tell-all accounts in which they were brilliant and all else obtuse. Feith has been called a dumb _____ by almost everyone in DC. Libby is facing jail for something or other, but most certainly not what the Special Prosecutor was supposed to be looking for; Wolfowitz faces an ouster: so much for bringing up to your board that you might have a conflict of interest down the road.
[lumping Richard Clarke--who was demonstrably correct--with Scheuer--who had great criticisms of the Clinton administration in with Paul O'Neil, who handled primarily economic issues and with Tenet--who has written a self-serving memoir--is patently ridiculous.]
We’ve suffered through the distortions of Michael Moore and know that Cindy Sheehan once thanked President Bush for meeting with her. We’ve heard that the US military is akin to Saddam, Nazis, Pol Pot, or Stalin from the likes of Sens. Durbin and Kennedy, that America is a pariah from Sen. Kerry, that the war is lost from Sen. Reid and Howard Dean, and about everything imaginable from poor Sen. Biden.
[Right--but what Juan Cole? Why isn't he mentioned at all in this article? What about Paul Rieckoff? What about the thousands of actual Veterans who have spoken up? What about LTG Odom? General Zinni? You know, actual critics with standing and experience. Rolling Michael Moore and Sheehan out for the cameras is a classic right wing method of distraction. Look at the clowns and don't pay attention to the serious critics.]
We know that the Clintons once tried to restore their fides on national security by railing about Saddam’s WMD program, both before and after September 11. There has been a revolt of the generals and CIA operatives, that in addition to demonstrating opposition to the war, showed just how angry top brass are at our restructuring the military and /or intelligence agencies.
[I think President Clinton (and not so much his wife, who was the First Lady) spoke about WMDs and Saddam in the context of containing Saddam, using international diplomacy and a weapons inspection program, not invading Iraq and gettings us bogged down in a land war in Asia for over four years. And the top brass aren't angry at the restructuring of the military. They're angry at the wholesale dismantling and destruction of our military through willful institutional neglect.]
The Celebs have weighed in, and now we know that the Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Rosie, the Donald, and Alec Baldwin are as ignorant as they are vehement and vicious in their pronouncements.
[Don't forget the celebrities who are for the war. I'd list them if I could think of any. Is Toby Keith still speaking up? Anyone? And why is the United States Army terrified of an old woman with a guitar? Why are they afraid of Joan Baez? Why did they refuse to allow her to play at Walter Reed? Baez has stated publicly that she takes responsibility for NOT properly welcoming home the soldiers from the Vietnam War. This is an extraordinary pronouncement from a major figure of that time.]
We’ve seen all the supposed landmark stories come and go: Dick Cheney’s shotgun, the supposed flushed Koran, the forged memos about Bush’s National Guard service, the doctored photos from Beirut, the slips from CNN brass about bias, the implosion of Dan Rather, the blood lust for Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Gonzalez, et. al. None of them did anything illegal; all of them were hounded by the press to resign—all of whom Republicans thought if these just go, the Left will stop, when in fact its appetite was only fed.
[Dick Cheney actually did shoot someone in the face. What does that have to do with anything? Would any sane person actually go hunting with someone who demonstrates clear and willful ignorance of the proper handling of a firearm? Why bring up something ridiculous like the Koran incident? Dan Rather resigned. The CNN official who stated that bias is gone. The doctored photos were answered for--I believe that the photographer in question was fired from the AP. Wolfowitz still has a job, Rumsfeld is effectively retired with a pension and Gonzales is twisting in the wind and appears to have delegate the firing authority of the US Department of Justice to flunkies who have either resigned or tried to pleade the Fifth. I don't recall any "bloodlust" for Attorney General John Ashcroft. I believe he resigned because of health problems. And I also recall him refusing to go along with some of the more illegal and unconstitutional aspects of the Bush administration policies. As a matte r of fact, Ashcroft will go down as a significantly better Attorney General than Gonzales and will, in fact, be remembered as someone who actually read the Constitution.]
All that has come and gone, and we are left in the end with the verdict of the battlefield. The war will be won or lost, like it or not, fairly or unjustly, in the next six months in Baghdad. Either Gen. Petraeus quells the violence to a level that even the media cannot exaggerate, or the enterprise fails, and we withdraw. For all the acrimony and hysteria at home, that in the end is what we face—the verdict of all wars that ultimately are decided by the soldiers, and then either supported or opposed by the majority at home with no views or ideology other than its desire to conform to the narrative from the front: support our winners, oppose our losers. In the end, that is what this entire hysterical four years are about.
[Nice use of a Friedman. Look, just for pity's sake, it is quite clear that, six months from now, nothing will have changed and you'll find an intellectually dishonest way to locate another "six month period" through which everyone is supposed to wait silently. We are not actually in a war right now. We are engaged in maintaining the legitimacy of a Shiite-dominated government which will not share power with a Sunni minority. We are being attacked on all sides by rival factions that have instability as their goal. The more instability, the less legitimate the al-Maliki government appears. Millions of military-aged Iraqi males refuse to engage in the struggle for the future of their own country. You cannot examine the situation in Iraq without first noting that millions of Iraqis are doing nothing to make their own country safe, stable or secure. Twenty-five thousand insurgents are battling over 300,000 Iraqi "police." That leaves 3.5 million Iraqi males who could fight on the sideline, while Americans are dying. The US military is engaged in a nation-building exercise in a violently turbulent region, not in anything resembling a war. The Second Iraq War was won in three weeks when Iraqi resistance as a military force collapsed.]
Win Iraq in the sense of a government stabilizing analogous to Kurdistan or Turkey, and even at this late hour, pundits and politicians will scramble around to dig up their 2002-3 quotes supporting the war, while Hollywood goes quiet and turns to more sermons on Darfur.
Sad, but true.
[There is no analogy to any other situation. The United States of America is being bled dry by the stubborn fear of one man, who refuses to admit his mistake for starting the war. Were Dick Cheney to stand up and say that he was wrong for forcing this country into the Iraq War, and were he to take the blame for it, the Republican Party would be able to quickly rebound and focus on domestic and economic issues. Because one man cannot admit his mistakes, the country is locked in a quagmire.