Saturday, September 25, 2004

Rumsfeld Is Once Again Inserting His Foot into His Arrogant Mouth

I thought the political handlers inside the Bush Administration had been successful in silencing our over bellicose, politically inappropriate, and all too frequently arrogant, condescending Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. But this week he has been back in the news with a vengeance, this time further perpetrating the administration’s lie about Iraq with his own unforgettable and often straight-shooting, short sided, dim-witted style.

The haughty Defense Secretary, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week, amazingly proffered the notion that the upcoming Iraqi elections might exclude insecure parts of the country. Rumsfeld stated, "[L]et's say you tried to have an election and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country…[B]ut in some places you couldn't because the violence was too great? Well, so be it. Nothing's perfect in life, so you have an election that's not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet," Rumsfeld quipped.

So, are we (the American people and indeed the world) to buy that it is okay for certain part of the Iraqi electorate to be disenfranchised because of the on-going security problems, the morass that we created by not putting enough boot on the ground? And that the United States the great bringer of democracy, the shinning beacon on the hill, the hope of the world, can shrug it off as if it didn’t matter, chalking it up to life not being perfect? How does this translate to fair, open and equal election for the people of Iraq? Is this guy for real? Or have the Republican learned from their own homegrown experiments in voter disenfranchisement over the years, and are now applying those same undemocratic principles in Iraq? What is happening to America?

Open question to Donald Rumsfeld: do you know what the Constitution is, and if so, have you read it, and if so, do you understand that you read? Certainly by your callous, unthinking, and dare I say stupid statements, it is clear that there is a hard to disregard disconnect, somewhere between the dawning of understanding of American principles and your oft-time unbelievably ignorant vocalizations.

How did we and the world come to suffer you sir?

Iraq: Reality Check Please

Can any rational, reasonable person even keeping half an ear on the news out of Iraq possibly believe that the country is on the road to democracy? Violence grows on a daily basis with U.S. military official announcing that four Marines, from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, were killed Friday in three separate incidents while "conducting security and stability operations," in al Anbar province, while at least seven Iraqi’s lost their lives in the ongoing battles in and around Al- Falluja. How can elections be conducted under such an umbrella violence? Would Americans given similar circumstances turn out in large numbers to vote?

Meanwhile, President Bush praised interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and detailed his plan for stabilizing Iraq during his weekly radio address Saturday, stating, "[I]n less than three months, Prime Minister Allawi and his government have accomplished a great deal, despite persistent violence in parts of Iraq." What have the Iraqi’s been able to accomplish Mr. Bush? Has the violence lessoned, are the Iraqi people any closer to democracy then they were under Saddam’s rule. How long before the country fractures and Civil War bloodies the Iraqi people even more?

And consider this from yesterdays Washington Post:
BAGHDAD, Sept. 25 -- Less than four months before planned national elections in Iraq, attacks against U.S. troops, Iraqi security forces and private contractors number in the dozens each day and have spread to parts of the country that had been relatively peaceful, according to statistics compiled by a private security firm working for the U.S. government.

Attacks over the past two weeks have killed more than 250 Iraqis and 29 U.S. military personnel, according to figures released by Iraq's Health Ministry and the Pentagon. A sampling of daily reports produced during that period by Kroll Security International for the U.S. Agency for International Development shows that such attacks typically number about 70 each day. In contrast, 40 to 50 hostile incidents occurred daily during the weeks preceding the handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government on June 28, according to military officials.

Reports covering seven days in a recent 10-day period depict a nation racked by all manner of insurgent violence, from complex ambushes involving 30 guerrillas north of Baghdad on Monday to children tossing molotov cocktails at a U.S. Army patrol in the capital's Sadr City slum on Wednesday. On maps included in the reports, red circles denoting attacks surround nearly every major city in central, western and northern Iraq, except for Kurdish-controlled areas in the far north. Cities in the Shiite Muslim-dominated south, including several that had undergone a period of relative calm in recent months, also have been hit with near-daily attacks.

I think its time for a reality check.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bush’s Speech Before the U.N. Had (Predictably) Little Basis in Reality

After listening to President Bush’s speech before the U.N. yesterday I wondered to myself: is this guy on the same planet as the rest of us? Does he not care that his and the country’s credibility before the world will continue to slide if his administration continues to deny and ignore what the rest of the world sees so clearly: mainly that Iraq and even Afghanistan are slipping from U.S. control, spiraling down in a blood soaked orgy of violence?

While the daily reports of the escalating violence peppers the front pages of major—and minor—newspapers around the world, the Bush Administration still clings irrationally to the theory that democracy is flourishing in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am sure most of the diplomats in the audience for the President’s speech yesterday were equal as dumbfounded by his almost alien speech that took on a decided belligerent tone. And yet Bush came before the body to ask for assistance, but to me it sound more like a demand. The New York Times opinion page summed it up best:
We did not expect President Bush to come before the United Nations in the middle of his re-election campaign and acknowledge the serious mistakes his administration has made on Iraq. But that still left plenty of room for him to take advantage of this one last chance to appeal to an increasingly antagonistic world to help the Iraqis secure and rebuild their shattered nation and prepare for elections in just four months. Instead, Mr. Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech in which he glossed over the current dire situation in Iraq for an audience acutely aware of the true state of affairs, and scolded them for refusing to endorse the American invasion in the first place.

Even when he talked about issues of common agreement, like the global fight against AIDS and easing the crushing third-world debt, Mr. Bush seemed more interested in praising his own policies than in assuming the leadership of an international effort. The speech would have drawn cheers at an adoring Republican National Convention, but it seemed to fall flat in a room full of stony-faced world leaders.

The Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan think tank did an extensive analysis of the Bush’s speech. On thing is apparent, Bush is fiddling while the War on Terror slips from U.S. control. And I for one do not feel safer, how can I when the Commander-n-Chief is too busy obfuscating the truth to truly lead?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Where do we go from here?

The Turkish government confirmed this morning that 10 of it citizens were kidnapped Friday in Iraq. They are of course just the latest in a recent upturn in such abductions, which saw 2 Americans and a British national also taken only to later show up on tape with guns pointed to their blindfold clad heads. And this on the heals of a severe up-tick in violence in Iraq in the last week that has left some 100 dead and scores more wounded. Where is this all leading?

Where do we go from here?

Even to the casual observer is it plain the see that the situation in Iraq is fast spinning out of our control. It is widely reported that most of the major cities within the now infamous Sunni Triangle are in insurgent hands, not ours. Yet national elections are still scheduled for January. How can national election take place with these vital cities in Iraqi government (American) hands? And how much bloodshed will it cost to get take them back from the entrenched insurgents? And with what troops will we use to undertake such an adventure when we lack the resource to affect the capture and occupation of Al Fallujah, Ar Ramadi, Balad, and Samarra, and the Iraq security forces have thus far shown a reluctance to truly fight?

Where do we go from here?

Sabotage of vital infrastructure continues apace, the rising number of daily attacks by insurgents is getting progressively bolder and more deadly, and security in the country of Iraq is an ever vanishing dream of both the Iraqi and American people. Yet our President continues to paint a picture of Iraq as a country on the very threshold of democracy, stating recently that,
[T]he Iraqis are defying the dire predictions of a lot of people by moving toward democracy…It's hard to get to democracy from tyranny. It's hard work. And yet, it's necessary work. But it's necessary work because a democratic Iraq will make the world a freer place and a more peaceful place…[B]ut I fully understand how hard it is for democracy to grow in a country that has been under a leader that tortured and killed and maimed his people...

Huh? Really? Is the President viewing the world through a virtual-reality helmet? Is Bush so out of touch with the real world that he cannot see that Iraq is not a “catastrophic success” but a catastrophic failure that speaks to the lack of planning by the Pentagon and the striking lack of leadership on his own part? Wait don’t answer that. Of course he does! This is no longer about Saddam, and how he did or did not torture, kill, and maim his own people. This has gone way beyond quaint sounding platitudes and meaningless regurgitated sound bites. How can our President so blindly ignore the findings of our own intelligence (site) estimates, which paint a picture of a situation riddled with uncertainty; reports that state that at worse Iraq may devolve into Civil War? Is it stupidity, ignorance, callousness, or arrogance that binds the helmet to the President's head?

Where do we go from here?

Does the Bush Administration have a plan to extricate us from Iraq? If there is one, what is it? What is the plan as Iraq spins out of control and with each passing day lessens the chance that strong, fertile democracy will take hold in the killing fields of the Sunni Triangle? What is the plan to retake the cities of the Sunni Triangle, and at what cost in human life, both Iraqi and American? What is the plan when the Iraqi elections fail utterly degenerating into an orgy of violence we seem powerless to placate? What is the plan when the world’s worse fears are realized and Iraq erupts into civil war destabilizing the one of the world’s principle oil supplies?

Where do we go from here? That is the fundamental question. No matter who ultimately wins the White House, that question will hang above their heads like a sharpened scimitar thirsting for blood. Now that we have gotten so deeply entrenched in Iraq at what point do we remove ourselves completely from the picture. Will we ever be able to leave, or are American forces destined to stay on in a country that can never be secure without a strong central government to quell the long standing animosity between the peoples that call Iraq home?

Where do we go from here?