Thursday, January 11, 2007
TIME TO ESCORT THE PRESIDENT OUT OF THE CASINO
_Twenty Minutes for Twenty Thousand more troops
by CODY LYON
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Anyone who has spent time on a casino floor has probably witnessed a black jack or roulette junkie on a losing streak. But, he keep’s on gambling, saying to his wife or friends, all I need is one more chance, I’m hot, I can feel it this time, I know I can still win. Eventually, if he’s lucky, his friends drag him out of the casino, cutting his losses. Compare that to the President of the world’s most powerful nation, who is pushing for permission to gamble with 21 thousand more of his own people’s lives. This, despite cautious expert tea-leaves provided by a bi partisan Iraq Study Group, the President claims he’s hot. But, sobering words like those of Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel warning that the President’s plan would be the “most dangerous foreign policy blunder since Vietnam ” are sending sobering messages that will hopefully result in an efficient, none to soon exit. Ultimately, it will be up to leaders in the Congress, to decide who plays the next hand in what has turned out to be one our nation’s most horrific mistakes, Iraq.
The President’s “twenty minutes for twenty thousand” speech was a controversial, frustrating but extremely important moment in American history. We knew what President Bush was going to say in advance, so pundits were left to critique his delivery style and discuss reactions from Senators and other leaders who issued statements for, or against the plan. It would appear, many Americans are allowing themselves to honestly contemplate what the likely effects of President Bush’s proposed course of action would turn out to be. But, the groundswell of opinion appears to be not only against any upsurge of troops, but a growing number are saying pull them all out as quickly as possible. Regardless, it is worth asking, will the additional manpower in Iraq make us safer here at home? Will the knocking on thousands of doors in Baghdad result in the rounding up of insurgents and other militants in what is clearly an urban, guerilla civil war that has passions going back hundreds of years, somehow result in a more stable Iraq? Will this “surge” or escalation simply add 20 thousand new American targets to an unfamiliar terrain that many argue we should have never invaded in the first place? If the past four years are any indication of what’s to come, this President needs to be quickly and firmly escorted out of the casino.
Republican Senator John McCain said that if you cut funding, then you assume the consequences of failure. But, does that mean, if you continue to fund and sacrifice human lives, and yet you still fail, you absolve yourself of responsibility of what was clearly un-wise policy and direction? According to the National Priorities Project, Congressional appropriations for the Iraq effort will reach around $348 billion dollars this March. The price increases by about $200 million each day. But, that’s just the cash. The ultimate price being the human toll, which in American lives, is now over the number killed on 9/11. And, who can put a price on Cindy Burn’s pain, who sat crying at Ft Benning Georgia during a BBC interview, as her husband prepares for another tour of duty in Iraq? Of the troop increase she asks whose victory, his (The President) or ours? And, there’s the under reported Iraqi human toll which is almost too painful to contemplate. Estimates say between 50 to 150 thousand human beings have died since the invasion. Some put that number much higher. In addition, Iraq is seeing a massive brain pool hemorrhage as intellectuals and those with the means, exit the country in massive numbers. In fact, 3.5 million Iraqi citizens have fled their homes since the war began, with an additional 50 thousand fleeing daily. Truly, it is hard to imagine things becoming any worse in Iraq. The inheritance of failed consequences appears to be here now, with most Iraqi’s begging for the simple things in life, like days without fear and violence, even a steady source of power and food. While all Americans have the utmost faith in our armed forces, the very idea that 20 thousand more troops will turn this disaster around is foolish.
Why have this President and his team, chosen to ignore one of the most important recommendations of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group? That recommendation involves a Diplomatic Offensive that would reach out to big players in the region, Iran and Syria? The President’s new policy smells of arrogance and stubborn certitude that ignore the complicated web of regional sectarian interests and cultures that are at play in Iraq and the surrounding lands. And, with that arrogance, it snubs a nose at our nation’s most fundamentally important issue, our national security.
With his Texas swagger checked, the President delivered a somber speech to the nation on Wednesday night arguing that he now had the assurances of full cooperation from the Malaki government as well as a new strategy for establishing order in Baghdad. But, President Malaki can’t even conduct a professional hanging, how is he going to assure the cooperation of thousands of his soldiers in a larger operation with our troops? Sadly, this course of action, if carried out, threatens to further prolong clearly un-wise, poorly planned policy, leaving the next President to inherit the current’s losses. In his speech, the President called the Iraqi elections of 2005 a stunning achievement. But, there were stunning elections in 2006 right here in the United States that some say sent a clear message to this White House. One can only wait and see, if this President will soon be escorted out of the casino.