May's First Weekend
With the sunshine and soft winds returned, this weekend past was almost normal, except for one significant factor: a dozen young Americans lost their lives in Iraq. The casualty rate among natives was the usual: scores wounded and mutilated and some 100 wasted.
Hardly worth disturbing the morning's second cup of coffee and most people in this nation apparently agree. Editors give readers what they want. Stories from the combat zone usually wind up behind the day's other news.
If you're looking for how the invasion and occupation of Iraq might be going, look to the political columns; anywhere but where the blood is flowing: Where women and children have their body parts and pieces blasted around the countryside and many men wind up with a bullet in the back of their heads.
Last week (May 1) brought the fourth anniversary of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier deployed as a theatrical setting for former aviator George W. Bush, costumed in a flight jacket; the president announced, in essence, it was all over, except for some clean-up. His record of promises has hardly improved since.
On last year's third anniversary Mr. Bush proclaimed Baghdad's formation of a unity government as the end of the beginning phase in his ill-advised military action. It seems now that nothing real changed, following past patterns.
People who want to compare Iraq to Vietnam will instantly come up with ex-defense secretary Robert McNamara's light at the end of the tunnel, which never appeared. Presumably, the Democratic cabinet member was still seeing the flickering flame when Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City.
As justification for the battalions of U.S. troops - including the largest overseas deployment of Marylanders since World War II - administration apologists explain this country's young men and women are being used to prevent a bloodbath. But what's happening now?
A weekend story reported that each month more Iraqis are lost than the total mortalities from 9/11. While the American presence may not contribute significantly to the dying, there is no evidence that putting U.S. forces in harm's way even slows down the fratricidal slaughter.
As you probably know, certain hot spots have been cut into districts separated by walls, similar to the reasoning behind Israel's fencing off occupied Palestine. Someone should probably warn Jerusalem to hold off. In the capital of Anbar province, Ramadi, the walls have scarcely slowed down the violence. Suicide bombers have been busy.
Dead poet Robert Frost is proving dead wrong that fences make friends. In Iraq, they do not.
The Democrats, meanwhile, continue to dither; the party seeks to avoid at all cost the charge that somehow they gave up. There was never really the hope of success, as column after column has pointed out.
Republicans are united, less than more, that the president deserves one more chance, to make good on his elusive goals. In essence, their position seems to be based entirely on loyalty to the GOP and to hell with sweet reason.
For the present quagmire that feeds on young Americans' lives, the media deserve most of the blame. Many commentators and editors still deceive themselves and their audience that America can win. They wrap the red-white-and-blue around their vision, as blindfolds.
The only clear winners in Iraq are the Kurds, who have protected their sector against any and all comers. Refugees from Arab provinces face nearly insurmountable obstacles. Safe with oil resources in their north, they have predetermined Iraq's future.
Balkanization is the old word that means carving any region into lesser, stand-alone political parts. With the Kurds way out in front, both Sunnis and Shiites are racing in the same direction. This is the last solution acceptable to Washington. It's where we are.
It has been inevitable since the invasion's early days, especially when Saddam Hussein's army was smashed to pieces guaranteeing anarchy, endowing the insurgency with men and boodles of weapons.
The deaths of Iraqi men, women and children, by the thousands, and further sacrificing hundreds of young Americans will not change that reality.