November 23, 2005
A Plague on Both Their Houses
Odom has called the Iraq War the greatest strategic blunder in
the history of the United States. Final returns are not yet in,
but he may not be far off.
Iraq, we attacked and occupied a country of 25 million that had
not attacked us, did not threaten us, did not want war with us
-- to strip it of weapons we now know it did not have.
as most believed, Saddam had chemical or biological weapons, there
was no evidence he intended the suicidal use of such weapons on
U.S. troops in Kuwait, or to hand them over to al-Qaida to use
on America, risking massive retaliation. Saddam was never a suicide
bomber. He was always a survivor.
we couldn't take the chance, countered the War Party. Nonsense.
We take the chance every day with Iran and North Korea, far more
powerful nations, as we did every day of the Cold War against
a nuclear-armed Russia and China. They had missiles and WMD. But,
like Saddam, they were deterred.
Bush, prodded by a cabal of neoconservatives who, for their own
motives, had been plotting war on Iraq for years, invaded. History
will hold him accountable for the consequences.
On the credit
side, he liberated the Iraqis from a murderous tyrant. But the
cost is high and rising: 17,000 U.S. dead and wounded -- i.e.,
the eradication of an entire American division -- $200 billion,
the diversion of priceless assets from the fight against al-Qaida,
rampant anti-Americanism in the Islamic world, the shattering
of our alliances, the division of our nation, and the prospect
of a U.S. defeat by Iraqi insurgents and terrorists.
cost must be added after a week in which Harry Reid and Co. accused
President Bush of lying us into war, Republicans accused Democrats
of cutting and running, and Rep. John Murtha accused Bush and
Cheney of being chicken-hawks who dodged the draft in Vietnam.
are behaving like the leaders of the late and unlamented French
But if Bush,
Cheney and Rumsfeld are responsible for the war and its consequences,
so, too, are the potential Democratic nominees: Kerry, Edwards,
Clinton, Biden and Bayh. In October 2002, because the country
was cheering a commander in chief beating a war drum, they voted
Bush a blank check to take us to war. In the fall of 2005, with
the people souring on the war, they voted for a timetable to get
deceived, we were misled, we were lied to, they wail. One only
awaits their explanation that they were brainwashed by a C student.
The Democratic Party is a poodle of public opinion, unfit to lead
But if we
were stampeded into this war, we must not let ourselves be stampeded
out of Iraq by a Democratic Party in panic, scrambling to get
out in front of its base. For the cost of retreat and defeat may
be far more calamitous than the costs of the present war.
at present four exit strategies:
A. The John
McCain strategy of sending 10,000 more U.S. troops, taking as
long as needed to train the Iraqi army and staying as long as
necessary to achieve victory.
B. The Bush
strategy of "Stay the Course," with the present complement
of forces staying as long as it takes to win.
C. The exit
strategy envisioned in the bipartisan resolution in the Senate
last week that passed with 79 votes, calling for Bush to give
the Congress benchmarks of success, leading to withdrawal.
D. The Democratic
option, supported by all but five Democratic senators, to set
benchmarks and a timetable for getting out.
option is a non-starter, for it is non-credible. Adding 10,000
troops to the 160,000 there will not pacify a Sunni Triangle of
5 million. U.S. opposition to the war is near 60 percent. And
if Bush refused to send the troops McCain has wanted for two years,
he will not do so now that his support is evaporating. The failure
to listen to Gen. Shinseki in 2002 was an irremediable blunder.
As for the
Bush policy of "Stay the Course," with support for the
war crumbling in Congress and the country and no light at the
end of the tunnel, it is unsustainable. On the other hand, a House
resolution, engineered by Republicans, calling for immediate withdrawal
was backed by only three members. Cut and run is not an option.
there exists a bipartisan consensus for Iraqification -- the transfer
of political authority in Baghdad and responsibility for the war
to the Iraqis. All that remains in dispute is the timetable.
As for the
ugliness and acrimony of Washington, it reflects the rage, resentment
and shame of men who know they made a horrible mistake, thousands
have suffered and died for it, and worse may be yet to come. The
truth is both parties failed America. What the Greatest Generation
won, the baby boomers are frittering away.
2005 Creators Syndicate