The trick is always in the question. Did the surge succeed? How much credit goes to who suggested verses that supported? Should this be a source of pride and a sign of vision? The answer depends on the goal of the surge. Was the objective to control Bagdad or to fix the failing Iraqi invasion? If it was only to subdue Baghdad, was the cost justified?
Imagine you buy a new appliance with your hard-earned money. You spend hours studying the diagrams. You successfully connect it as described. Proudly turn on the source of water and electricity to discover that the appliance doesn’t function, not only that it also leaks. You call the store in panic. They send a technician. The repairperson checks the connections, fixes it, verifies his work with headquarter s while the water level is rising throughout your house. After an endless wait, he congratulates you on your wise decision buying the product. The brand new appliance doesn’t leak anymore, it only drips. It doesn’t function either.If this were your appliance and drowning house, you wouldn’t smile, shake hands with the technician, and thank him or her for the good work, would you?
The surge in itself was never a goal, but a repairperson that came four years late to fix a problem that should never have existed in the first place. YES, the numbers of deaths on the American and Iraqi sides are down. YES, some areas in Iraq are under control. However, eight hundred and seventy one American soldiers died and two hundred billion spent since the beginning of the surge. The Iraqi invasion price tag as it approaches the fifth anniversary is four thousand young lives lost, moreover thirty-thousands severely injured, and six hundred billion dollars wasted. Despite the hefty price and all the sacrifices, the invasion failed to accomplish goal after another as the objectives kept changing to suit the political needs of the decision makers.
Our leaders never found weapons of mass destruction. Their promise of creating a self-efficient western style democracy in Iraq that will serve American interests fell on its face. Extremism expanded its reach from the Middle and Far East, to western Europe, while terror struck without discrimination in Indonesia, Scotland, England, Spain, Egypt, Netherlands among many other places. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Lebanon are falling apart by the minute. Syria and Iran are enjoying influence beyond their wildest dreams. This continuous bleeding in treasure and lives is taking place while Americans are losing their jobs, their houses, and haunted by the largest deficit in American history.If cost keeps rising and expectations keep falling, we can’t simply declare our leaders visionaries.
We can blame it all on the Iraqi government, and leave. Alternatively, we can blame it all on the Iraqi government and keep spending our treasure and dripping our blood. These are the only viable options but to claim that supporting the invasion or calling for additional troops and funding is a sign of leadership is beyond absurd.However, candidates and their strategists are talking up the surge, so we can forget the Iraqi quagmire. They are advocating a permanent tax cut, while the temporary one didn’t prevent the current economical meltdown. They are debating if the right candidate is not conservative enough and if the left candidates are too liberal, as if we are in a chemistry lab creating the next miracle formula.
The 2008 election comes at a time when statistics show that income per capita is in the bottom quarter, life expectancy is the shortest, infant mortality rate is the highest, and test scores are the lowest of the industrialized nations. Our lifestyles are threatened and our country’s stature is dissipating. In such times, citizens have no choice but to take charge, keep eyes on the ball, and reject the temptation to entertain the wrong questions. This election is not about gay marriage, the right of the unborn, or the right to choose. This election is not about Republican or Democrats and the shades of conservatism or liberalism. This election is not about Bible states and godless states. This election is not about a single issue. This election is about us, about America the wise, the fair, and the humane. This election might be our last chance to save a dream.