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As Long as We Remember...

July 20, 2007

Off with My Head

Roy Meachum

George W. Bush cannot be blamed. The Iraq report failed this week to live up to his expectations. He advised the American people to wait until October. We don't really have a choice. In the coming three months, hundreds of U.S. soldiers and thousands of Iraqi men, women and children will die or be mangled.

It's not George W. Bush's fault. He didn't know. His Yale education did not teach him: Arabs are actually men not stereotypes. The numbers are hugely on their side. But the president believes right prevails every time.

Stories say this nation has now stationed 150,000 young men and women capable of laying down their lives. Add to that 130,000 more, many from other nations. They work for contractors. They clean, cook and do many of the other non-combat chores GIs once did. But the Americans in Iraq are not GIs. They are troops. They are over there strictly to fight "insurgents."

There's another word that sticks in my craw. The label people wanted to achieve the opposite effect. They have no government to "insurge" against. They intended "insurgents" to slip into our conscious and unconscious easily and painlessly. They did not intend this Middle Eastern adventure to be painful.

Their Iraqi "handlers" assured them it would be a piece of baklava, very sweet pastry. These handlers had not been in their native land for years. Never mind. They met people who came and went. The people followed ancient Middle Eastern custom. They told them what they wanted to hear. Everybody should have known. They didn't.

The U.S. invasion began March 19, 2003. America's bombs and missiles went first. Washington said they would finish the monstrous dictator and both his sons. The trio absented themselves from the cafe that was pulverized. The first tanks crossed the Kuwait border before anybody really knew. Washington was wrong. This country entered war without direct provocation. For the first time in our history.

The demolition of the World Trade Towers and attacking the Pentagon were not Iraqis' doing. Report after report confirmed that fact. But men around the president resented his father letting Saddam al-Hussein get away. That's how they still feel. They suffered frustration because the elder Bush would not condone trailing the Iraqis all the way out of Kuwait. That was Desert Storm. They were not content that thousands of throats were not cut, or the modern equivalent.

They studied the dispatches, looked at all the footage and talked to those who had been there for the Turkey Shoot. The phrase was used for the pell-mell, frantic state of the Iraqi army as it scampered back home from Kuwait. They thought it would be the same. It wasn't.

They planned to scare silly anybody who stood with the dictator. What bombs and missiles would not do, they guaranteed in a shock and awe spectacle. Baghdad fell. There was no great battle. The historic capital quickly surrendered. Awe and shock fizzled.

Saddam el-Hussein summoned hundreds of thousands. He stored acres and acres of weapons and munitions. Very few fighters showed to pick them up. But multitudinous bombs of all sizes did not go entirely wasted. They found new life in incendiary explosive devices. The IED gadgets cost lives daily.

Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are not to blame. They know lots of things. They are Good Americans. And that is their problem. Their knowledge of the U-S-and-A doesn't translate. They speak no other language. The same word can mean different things. Many they simply did not understand. What they heard as Yes really converted to Maybe and sometimes flat No. Other people are not the same.

What was designed to end that May day on the aircraft carrier drags on. Momentum has shifted. Safe Afghanistan and safe Pakistan are safe no more. At this point it doesn't really matter why. We are losing surely what we thought we had. We've already lost the myth that this nation under God is truly invincible. But George Bush's not to blame.

The mighty Soviet Union floundered on the same crowd. Ten years. It took that long for the Red Army to hightail back to Moscow. I've never heard or seen the count of their youth lost. But Washington knows. Americans are better. With one arm tied we can conquer the universe. Going into Iraq no arm was tied. As I wrote before, the invasion was lost before the troops stepped on the sandy beach.

George W. Bush disagrees. He told Congress nobody knows until October. Over four years after the Hussein family failed to eat in that particular cafe. The next report comes from the committee in three months. Their announcement this week was neither bright nor cheery. But what do they know?

The president was elected by American voters. He is our ordained leader. Off with the heads of all those who disagree. Mine first.

Yellow Cab
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